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29 Jul 2021


Thai auto market could see sales drop to 720,000 due to prolonged COVID-19 outbreak, while exports may offer little support to production (Current Issue No.3249)


​With the most recent wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delta variant has established itself as a major global threat, having spurred a surge in the number of cases across many countries, including Thailand. It may also impact economies worldwide over the long term if the outbreak is not successfully contained. Based on the severity of the latest outbreak in Thailand, KResearch has revised its projection for the Thai automotive industry in 2021.

In the best-case scenario, the outbreak in Thailand and abroad – especially in ASEAN countries –would decline to levels similar to those seen in June 2021 by the third quarter of the year. As a result, domestic sales and exports would be able to return to normal levels within a relatively short period of time. A slowdown in COVID-19 infections would also signify that manufacturing processes would not be stalled over a long timespan. Hence, Thailand could boost vehicle production to meet actual demand in the market. KResearch therefore projects that, in the best-case scenario, domestic car sales may amount to 750,000 in 2021 (-5.3 percent YoY), while export volume should number 950,000 units (+29.0 percent YoY). Consequently, the total auto production for 2021 would reach 1.68 million units (+17.5 percent YoY).

In the worst-case scenario, the outbreak would continue to run rampant, and Thailand as well as other ASEAN countries would manage to reduce the number of daily new cases to those seen in June 2021 only by the year's end. Regional economies would thus suffer far greater damage, driving down both domestic car sales and exports. If automotive manufacturing plants are closed for a period longer than the previous scenario – or roughly one month, it would be more difficult to accelerate production once the situation improves. For this reason, KResearch projects that, in the worst-case scenario, domestic car sales may only amount to 720,000 in 2021 (-9.0 percent YoY), while export volume would come to just 890,000 units (+21.0 percent YoY). Therefore the total auto production for 2021 would be only 1.6 million units (+12.0 percent YoY).

In light of the upward trend in COVID-19 infections at present, car manufacturers have begun to adjust their strategies by adding more auto parts to their stock in order to maintain the flow of their production lines. KResearch views that concerted efforts are needed to rapidly limit the spread of the outbreak.