Tri Petch Isuzu glum on car market
Tri Petch Isuzu Sales, the local distributor for the Japanese truck maker, is downbeat on Thailand's 2020 car market, which it sees falling 7.7% to 930,000 units sold due to economic difficulties such as bearish exports, the baht's appreciation and the delayed fiscal budget.
There were negative signs in the fourth quarter of 2019 indicating that the overall car market was unwell, said president Toshiaki Maekawa.
"It was caused by global and local economic movements, such as the US-China trade war, and our trade partners have suffered from these downturns," he said. "These risks also put pressure on the Thai car market this year, while the strong baht still affects exports and the tourism sector, while the drought impacts farmers' income."
The 3.2-trillion-baht annual budget for fiscal 2020 was supposed to start last October but was hampered by the lengthy government installation and legislative process.
Mr Maekawa said the government should speed the process of passing the budget bill because the country needs new state investment.
The projection of 930,000 units sold does not factor in the coronavirus outbreak. Isuzu said Thailand learned from the Sars crisis in 2003, so the impact of the coronavirus should be short-lived.
The company expects to make headway in the car market this year by gaining a market share higher than 16.7%.
"Isuzu launched the Thai-made all-new D-Max pickup last October, but the full line-up began selling in early 2020, so these new models are expected to beef up Isuzu's sales this year," Mr Maekawa said.
In 2019, Isuzu posted 168,215 vehicles sold locally, down 5.4%, while the overall market for the period saw 1,007,552 units sold, down 3.3%.
Isuzu captured a 16.7% market share in 2019, down 0.4 percentage points. The brand ranked second after Japanese rival Toyota.
Isuzu sold 143,693 pickups last year, a 3.9% dip, while pickup passenger vehicles shifted 9,477 units for the period, a 24.5% plunge.
The remaining sales in 2019 were big trucks with 15,045 units sold, a 4.4% drop.
Mr Maekawa said Isuzu shipped 142,223 units from Thailand to overseas markets in 2019, a 16.1% drop from the year before.
"The baht's appreciation was the major cause for the contraction," he said. "Australia was the main destination for Isuzus, and the baht gained against the Australian dollar. Thanks to our new pickup line, Isuzu expects to beef up exports this year, and many markets are waiting for new launches shipped from Thailand."