Car makers optimistic about sales

Car makers optimistic about sales

US-China trade war pressures resisted

Car makers are confident that there will be healthy growth in the local market for the rest of the year despite pressure from the US-China trade dispute.

According to an industry report, car sales from January to May stood at 437,722 units sold, a year-on-year rise of 9.1%.

Sales in May alone stood at 88,097 units, up 3.7% year-on-year. May growth slowed from the two-digit rise seen in the first four months.

Takeshi Kazahara, vice-president of Tri Petch Isuzu Sales, said the slow growth last month was also in line with overall economy, which is suffering from the trade war. The second quarter is the low season for car sales, so performance has been quite sluggish.

"This external factor could pressure the economy with unstable sentiment. A windfall factor is new investment flow from Chinese investors, who are shifting to invest in Thailand as they flee from the trade war," he said. "The rise of private investment could contribute to Thailand's GDP and offset the trade war's effect."

Mr Kazahara said Isuzu has no worries about the slower pace of local car sales because overall sales remain positive.

Egathi Rattana-Aree, executive vice-president for domestic sales and after-sales for Mitsubishi Motors Thailand, said the car maker plans to revise its business plan for 2019 due to a myriad of factors, both internal and external.

Mitsubishi is optimistic about the local car market and posted strong growth during January to May.

"Thailand is facing political instability as the new administration has yet to be formed while the trade war is raising pressure on every economy around the world," Mr Egathi said. "Another factor directly pressuring local car sales are the central bank's new financial measures to control auto loan quality."

Wallop Treererkngam, executive director for sales and marketing at Suzuki Motor Thailand, said the car maker agrees that the Bank of Thailand's financial measures are needed to control auto loans and lessen non-performing loans.

"Every launched measure should be equally impactful to every related company -- banks, leasing companies and captive leasing units for car distributors," Mr Wallop said.

He said Suzuki is preparing for the soon-to-launch measures by teaming up with four financial partners to control and manage auto loan approvals.

"The measures can make the overall market grow sustainably," Mr Wallop said.

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