Toyota anticipates record sales in Thailand

Kyodo

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Thai unit is projecting a 72 percent surge in sales in Thailand this year to a record-high 500,000 units compared with 2011.

Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Toyota Motor Thailand Co. President Kyoichi Tanada also unveiled a plan to release a new compact car in 2013 in line with a Thai government initiative to promote eco-friendly vehicles.

The 2012 sales target represents an increase of 20,000 units from an earlier estimate on the back of a recovery in production from last year’s record flooding, which forced Japanese plants to temporarily suspend operations in Thailand, as well as government measures to boost the local auto market.

As a result, the Thai subsidiary’s output is expected to rocket 73 percent from a year earlier to roughly 880,000 units in 2012, another all-time record, Tanada announced. Thailand serves as Toyota’s export hub in Southeast Asia.

Tanada also hinted the automaker may introduce a different compact model for the Thai market, saying the company “would like to release a car suited for Southeast Asia.” Toyota Motor has already introduced compacts specifically designed for India and Brazil’s emerging markets.

Meanwhile, he voiced hope of expanding the lineup of vehicles turned out in Thailand to include the Lexus luxury models, currently produced in Japan, saying, “We would like to take some steps” to this end.

But since the Lexus is Toyota Motor’s flagship model and customers expect sky-high quality, the matter still requires careful consideration, he noted.

Efforts by the Thai government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency to mitigate the costs of lost production due to last year’s floods were praised by Tanada, who said: “Steady efforts have been made. We have been given a sense of safety in doing business.”