The year 2012 marks a historic milestone for the Thai automobile industry due to achievements in domestic sales, exports and production that have all hit record highs, with over 1.4 million units sold, 1 million units exported and 2.4 million units produced. The impressive production figure, in particular, will likely raise Thailand's ranking to the world's ninth-largest auto producer.
KResearch is of the view that the quick rebound that plants in Thailand achieved in returning to normal production levels following the massive flooding late in 2011, along with a wave of new car model introductions, and the government first-time car buyer program, are the most important factors helping shore up domestic car demand this year. The Thailand International Motor Expo 2012 around the beginning of this month, which serves as a curtain raiser to the 4Q12 auto-buying season, will likely have bolstered domestic car sales further with new car orders that are believed to have exceeded 60,000 units.
In 2013, KResearch expects that it will be another promising year for the Thai automobile industry as carmakers plan to ramp up production for export orders. As a result, it is expected that Thai car exports will again hit a record high at perhaps 1.23-1.29 million units in 2013, up 20-26 percent YoY. This increase would support domestic car sales that may contract perhaps 2-7 percent to around 1.34-1.41 million units in 2013, because much car demand has already been absorbed by the first-time car buyer program. Because of this, domestic car sales in 2H13 may decline from that seen in 2H12. Nevertheless, an expected increase in car exports should help offset smaller domestic demand and bolster overall auto production to a new high of 2.5-2.6 million units, thus rising 5-9 percent YoY.