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20 May 2009

Car sales in Thailand drop 27% in April

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Thai vehicle sales in April fell for an 11th consecutive month, industry figures showed Tuesday, plummeting 27.4 percent year-on-year after further domestic political upheaval, reported AFP.

Toyota Motor Thailand, which compiles the industry-wide figures, said domestic vehicle sales fell to 39,713 units.

Sales of passenger cars rose 4.2 percent year-on-year, but the commercial segment continued to suffer for a 12th month running and fell by 39.7 percent.

"It's the lowest drop in four months but it fell because of the economic slowdown and low consumer confidence... due to the political incidents in mid-April," Toyota Motor Thailand said in its monthly release.

Anti-government protesters loyal to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra stormed a regional summit on the coast of Thailand on April 11, forcing its closure before further demonstrations erupted in Bangkok.

The latest round of political unrest only ended after a state of emergency was called across the capital and rioting protesters were threatened with a military crackdown.

A monthly survey showed Thai consumer confidence fell to its lowest in more than seven years amid the turmoil.

But the industry forecast sales would improve in May as the political climate improves.

The three biggest auto companies in Thailand -- Toyota, Isuzu and Honda, which command 77.9 percent of the domestic market -- all reported falling sales in April.

The economy had already been hit last year after rival protesters opposing the then Thaksin-allied government besieged Bangkok's government offices and airports before a court verdict forced the ruling party from power in December.


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