Mitsubishi guns for top 3 in Thai market

Mitsubishi guns for top 3 in Thai market

Mitsubishi Motors Thailand is keeping its aggressive business outlook in the medium term, aiming to become one of the top three brands in the local car market.

President and chief executive Morikazu Chokki told the Bangkok Post that Mitsubishi ranks fourth in term of sales volume and market share in Thailand after Japanese peers Toyota, Isuzu and Honda, in that order.

"However, the gap between Mitsubishi and the top three brands remains too wide, and I aim to narrow it with new car models and well-performed services in the near future," Mr Chokki said.

He said Mitsubishi's customer satisfaction is another issue that must be improved in order to reach the goal of joining the top three in the next 3-5 years.

Last year, Mitsubishi ranked fifth in the JD Power Thailand Customer Service Index after Honda, Toyota, Isuzu and Mazda.

Mr Chokki said the positive factors lending support to the company are the recovery in the overall Thai auto market, which began to revive this year after facing contractions in the past four years with the expiry of the government's first-car tax break at the end of 2012.

"I think the Thai auto market has bottomed out since 2016 and we will be seeing better performance in 2017 onward," Mr Chokki said. "At the beginning of 2017, I forecast the market to grow by 3-5% from 720,000 units last year, excluding buses and big trucks. However, I have revised up the growth projection to 10%, thanks to overall better market performance in the first half of 2017."

The Federation of Thai Industries reported last week that domestic car sales during the first half of 2017 totalled 409,976 vehicles, up 11.2% year-on-year.

Toyota posted the top sales volume with 112,488 units, followed by Isuzu at 77,109 and Honda at 61,428.

Mitsubishi had 32,537 units sold, up 13.8% from the same period last year, good for a market share of 7.9%.

The Triton pickup truck represented 47% of Mitsubishi vehicles sold at 15,207 units, up 41.5% year-on-year.

But sales of the Pajero Sport passenger pickup vehicle (PPV) fell by 26.8% to 7,222 units.

Two Mitsubishi eco-car models -- Attrage and Mirage -- moved 5,674 and 4,434 units respectively, up 35.1% and 21.3%.

According to Mr Chokki, the company expects sales momentum to continue in the second half as market share surpasses 8% by the end of 2017.

Mitsubishi also reported that shipments in the first half from its operation in Chon Buri totalled 149,000 units, including completely built-up (CBU) and completely knocked-down (CKD) vehicles.

Although Mitsubishi has faced a tough situation with the weak global economy, which turned some export markets bearish, the overall export outlook appears to be growing stabler.

Weighing the pros and cons, Mitsubishi expects flat shipments from Thailand this year of 326,000 units, including CBUs and CKDs.

Mitsubishi operates three production facilities and one engine factory at Laem Chabang Industrial Estate.

The first factory, opened in 1992, makes passenger cars and PPVs. The second, opened in 1996, makes pickup trucks and PPVs. The third began operations in 2012 and makes eco-cars.

Subsidiary MMTH Engine Co, founded in 2008, makes 502,000 petrol and diesel engines a year.

The Thailand production facilities are the company's largest worldwide, controlling 30% of the total output of Mitsubishi Motors.

Mitsubishi makes a combined 424,000 vehicles a year at its Thai operations. Total production capacity of the three facilities amounts to 510,000 units a year.

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