Stakeholder meeting to discuss withering outlook

Stakeholder meeting to discuss withering outlook

Vehicles await shipment at Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri. According to the FTI's automotive club, the industry has suffered considerably from the pandemic. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Vehicles await shipment at Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri. According to the FTI's automotive club, the industry has suffered considerably from the pandemic. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Automotive industry stakeholders are meeting this week to discuss this year's outlook and devise market strategies to boost purchasing power, as the sector has suffered considerably from the pandemic.

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said car companies will propose a plan for government measures to support automotive and related industries, aiming to bounce back after months of slumping sales and factory shutdowns.

Surapong Paisitpatanapong, a spokesman for the FTI's automotive club, said the pandemic has hurt the automotive industry and many plants shut down in April.

"Many companies are considering shutting down car production plants for another month and/or cutting work hours," Mr Surapong said.

Typically car factories close in April because of several holidays.

Both domestic and export sales have plummeted as travel restrictions worldwide reduce demand for cars and lockdowns limit purchasing power.

Global car makers such as Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Ford and Mazda shut down production lines from March to April because of falling sales and the government's social distancing policy.

Mr Surapong said the automotive industry hopes that the global economy will rebound in the second half this year, increasing car exports from Thailand.

"Global car makers will revise their business plan because of the spread of Covid-19 affecting car sales, but no companies want to close down their plants in Thailand," he said. "There are rumours some companies want to permanently shutter their plants here, but that is all they are at this point."

Thailand is the biggest car producer in Asean.

The global automotive industry has been urged to use Thailand as a hub for business activity and production in the region.

"Thailand has 14 or 15 car production plants to produce cars for the domestic and export markets with a capacity of over 1 million units per year," Mr Surapong said.

Recently the FTI announced that car production would likely plunge 30% to 1.33 million units this year, possibly sinking as much as 50% to 1 million units if the crisis drags into June.

Of the 1.33 million vehicles expected to be produced this year, the FTI expects Thailand to make 665,000 units each for export and the domestic market.

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