Motor show lifts makers' spirits
Car makers hope that the Bangkok International Motor Show, which was delayed for three months, will spark a buying mood among car lovers after the industry was hit hard by the coronavirus in the first half of the year.
The 12-day Motor Show, which was earlier scheduled to open in late March, starts today amid strict hygienic measures, with key car companies pinning their hopes on better sales in the next six months while still expressing concern over economic uncertainty.
Car companies want the event to mark a fresh start for the automotive industry's recovery after the government's months-long fight against the disease forced many businesses to temporarily shut down, caused travel restrictions, increased unemployment and weakened Thais' purchasing power.
"I think things should improve after the government eased lockdown measures," Pongsak Lertruedeewattanavong, vice-president of MG Sales Thailand, said on Tuesday.
He expects some good news later this year after "car sales in Thailand dropped 30-40% since early this year".
Wichit Wongwatthanakan, managing director of Ford Thailand, shared similar views. He expects domestic car sales to reach 600,000-650,000 units this year, compared with 1 million units last year.
He and other car makers believe that sales in the second half of the year will help improve the full-year business prospects of the automotive industry, provided there is no second outbreak in the country.
"Toyota needs to carefully assess the situation every week," said Surasak Suthongwan, vice-president of Toyota Motor Thailand.
His company is worried about increasing infection rates in other countries.
Similar to Toyota's rivals, he thinks that the motor show, which sees the debut of various car models and offers discounts and financial solutions for prospective buyers, can help boost demand for cars.
"We have to keep a watch on the event until the end to see how many people book cars," Mr Surasak said.
Krisda Utamote, director of corporate communications at BMW Thailand, acknowledged the pandemic's impact on household liquidity but said he saw little impact on the luxury car segment, whose buyers have high purchasing power.