Thai industry cautiously optimistic about 2020 outlook

Thailand's automotive industry expects the local vehicle market to recover in the second half of next year, to finish the year above 1m units.

Despite declining for the last five months, the local vehicle market was still slightly positive in the first 10 months at 838,968 units and the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said it still expects the market to remain above 1m units in 2019.

The market this year has been affected by a sharp slowdown in economic growth and tighter car loan criteria by banks which has resulted in a significant rise in loan rejections – especially among small car buyers.

After a weak performance in the first half of 2020, against strong year earlier volumes, the FTI believes the market will recover in the second half of the year to finish above 1m units in 2020 for the third consecutive year.

Lower interest rates and government stimulus measures are expected to help stabilise the market next year leading to a second half recovery, Mazda Sales Thailand president Chanchai Trakarnudomsuk said at the launch of the Bangkok International Motor Show on Friday.

Bank of Thailand is also expected to loosen its lending guidelines for commercial banks to help underpin the market's recovery.

Other CEOs were more cautious, including Mitsubishi Motors Thailand's Morikazu Chokki who said: "Thai GDP is expected to bottom out in the second half of 2019, but overall 2020 sentiment is hard to predict. Local sales in 2020 are not expected to fall below 900,000 units, however."

Tri Petch Isuzu Sales' vice-president Takeshi Kazahara pointed to ongoing international economic uncertainties, such as Brexit, turmoil in Hong Kong, trade wars, the US presidential election and the strong Thai baht as further reasons to be cautious. But he expects domestic stimulus measures will help underpin local demand.

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