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Ford expects to hit six-year sales high

Mr Narong says the company expects to gain from improved car market sentiment in the first half.

Ford Thailand, a local arm of US carmaker Ford Motor Co, expects to reach the highest sales in six years in 2017, thanks to aggressive performance over the first half.

During the first half of this year, Ford posted total sales of 25,513 vehicles, representing a rise of 41.5% from the same period last year, while market share rose by another 0.9 percentage points from end of 2016 to 6.2% as of June this year.

Sales volumes were dominated by Ford Ranger pickup truck, which rose by 51% to 20,230 units, ranked as the third-biggest in the pickup truck segment in Thailand after Isuzu and Toyota.

Ford Everest passenger pickup vehicle came second among Ford sales with 3,647 units sold, up by 14%.

Ford EcoSport had 1,278 units sales, while passenger cars Focus and Fiesta had only 358 units that were sold.

According to deputy managing director Narong Sritalayon, the company will work with its 140 outlets to push forward sales to reach expectations during the remaining months of the year.

"We will focus on our top three models -- the Ranger, Everest and EcoSport -- while we will expand our dealer network to 145 outlets by the end of this year," he said.

"Moreover, the car market sentiment has shown better recovery over the first half and I expect there will be positive momentum for the company throughout 2017 with total car sales of 830,000-850,000 units in Thai market," he added.

Ford's all-time high performance was in 2012, when it had total car sales of 54,865 units, up sharply by 88%, spurred by the government's first-time carbuyer scheme.

Sales decreased to 51,223 vehicles in 2013 and dropped sharply further to 38,087 units in 2014.

Ford had 36,465 vehicles sold in 2015 before surging again to 40,972 vehicles sold in 2016.

Mr Narong added Ford recently moved its spare-parts distribution centre from Bang Na-Trat KM8 to KM18, where it has total area of 79,000 square metres for parts storage.

He said the storage is part of the strategy to help improve Ford's parts logistics management efficiency by 40% with Ford's 60-minute express service guarantee project, which operates after-sales maintenance via its dealers across the country 24 hours a day.

Mr Narong said the distribution centre on Bang Na-Trat KM18 is positioned to support Ford's sales in the Thai market, while its parts warehouse in Rayong will serve Ford's vehicle exports.

"In the next few years, the parent company plans to centralise both distribution centres to be in only one location on Bang Na-Trat Road for more efficient management," said Mr Narong.

The Michigan-based carmaker runs two plants in Rayong.

The first one, under Ford Thailand Manufacturing, was set up in 2012 at a cost of $450 million (15 billion baht), with an annual production of 180,000 vehicles, producing all Ford models after it invested $186 million to allocate its production line for pickup trucks.

The second factory is worth $1.66 billion and run by AutoAlliance Thailand, a joint venture with Mazda formed in 1997. Ford shares half of production capacity at 270,000 units per year, producing Ranger and Everest.

Ford's Thai operation serves its business in Asean and Oceania.

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