BANGKOK – Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. are projecting they will acquire bigger slices of the Thai vehicle market this year on the back of a gradual rebound expected in local car sales.
Thai auto sales remain in the doldrums since surging to 1.43 million vehicles in 2012, when a first-time car buyer plan was launched by the government. That plan offered a tax incentive committing participants to own vehicles for at least five years.
The Federation of Thai Industries has officially reported that domestic auto sales totaled 768,788 vehicles last year, down 3.9 percent from 2015, but said it anticipates 800,000 vehicles this year, helped by the government’s capital injection.
Antoine Barthes, president of Nissan’s Thai arm, Nissan Motor (Thailand) Co., also forecast total sales will grow 8 to 10 percent to more than 800,000 vehicles this year as he sees no downward pressure despite the expiration of the first-time car buyer offer.
Nissan is aiming to achieve a market share of 6 percent by March, the last month in its 2016 business year, up from the current 5.5 percent. Its sales totaled 42,677 vehicles in calendar 2016, down 17 percent from 2015.
The all-new Nissan Note, a five-door compact hatchback with a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine subject to the government’s eco-car incentive plan, was launched in Thailand last week with hopes that the model can be a large contributor to sales.
The president of Mazda’s Thai distributor Mazda Sales (Thailand) Co., Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk, said Mazda aims to boost sales 18 percent to 50,000 vehicles this year from 42,537 in 2016, increasing its market share to over 6 percent from last year’s 5.5 percent. The 2016 total was up 7.8 percent.
“The (required) period of possession from the first-car scheme has almost ended and 10 percent of participants in the program, about 100,000 buyers, are expected to buy new vehicles this year,” Charnchai said.
To achieve the goal, Mazda plans to launch six new models, give more attention to online marketing and increase its showrooms from the current 147 locations.
According to local industry data, Toyota Motor Corp. is the No. 1 car brand in Thailand, which sold 244,317 vehicles in 2016, followed by Isuzu Motors Ltd. with 143,170, Honda Motor Co. with 107,342 and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. with 55,409.