By Manager Online 18 February 2009 16:29
BANGKOK (AFP) - Domestic auto sales in Thailand plunged nearly 30 percent year-on-year in January, the eighth consecutive month of decline as the global financial crisis bites, an industry group said Wednesday.
Domestic car and truck sales last month stood at 32,085 units, down 29.8 percent from the same period in 2008, said Toyota Motors Thailand, which complies statistics for Thailand's auto industry.
Passenger car sales fell 10.0 percent to 13,527 units, while commercial vehicles plunged 39.5 percent to 18,558 units.
"Even though the government has issued several economic stimulus measures and the political situation is improving, the global economic recession is a threat which is pressuring the domestic economy," Toyota said in a statement.
In December, 59,002 auto units were sold, an 8.3 percent year-on-year drop.
The company predicted that domestic auto sales would improve in February as the two-month-old government's 116.7-billion-baht (3.3 billion dollar) economic stimulus package starts to take effect.
Thailand has positioned itself as a key regional production base for foreign automakers, but the industry has been hard hit by global financial problems.
The Federation of Thai Industries has forecast that auto exports will fall nearly 25 percent this year from 2008, while Toyota has previously said that domestic sales are expected to slip 15 percent.
Three Japanese automakers -- Toyota, Isuzu and Honda -- accounted for 80.6 percent of Thailand's total car market in January, Toyota said.
Mitsubishi Motors and General Motors also have plants here, and have both recently announced staff and production cuts because of the global slowdown.