Scania predicts 41.5% growth in truck sales
Bus market flat amid cheaper air travel
Scania Siam Co, the local arm of the Swedish bus and truck maker, is optimistic that accelerated infrastructure investment, recovering exports, higher prices for certain crops, growing tourism and greater Asean trade will help boost demand for heavy-duty trucks.
The company forecasts sales of its heavy-duty trucks to surge 41.5% this year to 600 units.
Managing director Stefan Dorski said 2017 is a big opportunity for Scania trucks because of myriad positive factors.
He expects Thailand's overall heavy-duty truck market to grow by 5-10% this year to 19,000-20,000 vehicles.
Last year, Scania sold 424 trucks, marking a record high and 149% gain from 170 sold in 2015. Thailand's overall market for heavy-duty trucks saw an 8.5% rise to 17,000 vehicles sold in 2016.
"Generally speaking, the market has now recovered to a normal level, with greater transportation, notably in the cargo, fuel and chemical segments," Mr Dorski said.
Thailand's truck sales peaked at 31,000 units in 2013, when 271 of those sold were from Scania.
Scania's truck sales fell to 240 in 2014 and 170 in 2015, with the overall Thai truck market falling to 21,000 and 16,500 units in those years.
For Scania buses, Mr Dorski expects sales of 100 units in 2017, compared with 91 last year.
He sees the overall bus market staying flat at 1,600 vehicles in 2017, reflecting the intensified competition of the past several years -- particularly in long-distance bus routes that have taken a hit from booming low-cost airlines.
"The bus market has had many risks over the past several years, although the country's tourism is bullish now," Mr Dorski said.
The Land Transport Department is decreasing the maximum allowable bus height from 4.3 to 4 metres to increase road safety. Most double-decker buses in Thailand will become illegal under the new rule.
In January, the Swedish parent firm of Scania Siam established a new local company -- Scania Group Thailand Co -- to handle construction at Scania's new assembly plant in Samut Prakan's Bang Phli district.
Scania announced in February that it would spend 800 million baht to build a new assembly facility for tractors and bus chassis in Thailand, with operations scheduled to start in 2018.
The company recently signed a contract with Ticon Logistics Park and Prospect Development Co to take charge of construction at the new facility.
According to Ted Goransson, acting managing director of Scania Group Thailand, once the new facility starts up in mid-2018, Scania will move its existing assembly operations in Chachoengsao to the new location.
"The new plant will have a bigger capacity than the 600-800 units a year at the existing facility," he said, adding that Thailand will be the third country after Sweden and Brazil to have a full assembly line for Scania truck components.