Ford Thailand, the production and distribution arm of US-based Ford Motor, has seen car sales over past 10 months dive 40% to 21,800 units from last year, but remains optimistic about future prospects after production fully resumed in response to the improving Thai auto industry.
The drop from January to October mainly resulted from the pandemic, which hurt the domestic economy and decreased people's purchasing power.
The company has seen some improvement in the Thai automotive business, with increased sales volume in the third quarter, with the "high season" for car sales starting last month, said Wichit Wongwatthanakan, Ford Thailand's managing director.
He said the company reopened two manufacturing plants in Rayong, resuming production to serve growing demand in the market.
The plants were temporarily shut down in the middle of this year because of state lockdown measures.
"The company increased work shifts and overtime payment for workers," said Mr Wichit at Ford Thailand's official launch for two new models, the Everest and the Ranger.
One of the plants is run by Ford Thailand Manufacturing, and the other is a shared facility owned by Auto Alliance Thailand (AAT), a joint venture of Japan's Mazda and Ford.
The two plants have a combined capacity of 300,000 units per year.
After evaluating overall domestic car sales, Ford Thailand said sales volume over past nine months (January-September) stood at 530,000 units. In September alone, sales tallied 72,000 units.
The company expects car sales in Thailand will reach 760,000 units this year and 800,000 units in 2021.
The Thai auto industry bore the brunt of lockdown measures in the second quarter, but managed to restore sales in the third quarter, said Mr Wichit.
"Pickup sales had an outstanding performance because they are commercial cars people buy for business use," he said.
During the pandemic, the sales of pickups increased by 48% to 380,000 units. Usually, the pickup segment grows around 42-43% a year.