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Toyota: Car market wobbly

Second half likely to have uncertainty

Toyota says the Thai market will suffer from loan inspections and the trade war, but maintains a sales projection of 1 million units in 2019. Patipat Janthong

Toyota Motor Thailand forecasts the country's car market in the second half will suffer from uncertainty, but the manufacturer has yet to cut its 2019 market projection of 1 million units sold.

According to Toyota, overall car sales in the first half stood at 523,770 units, up by 7.1% from the same period last year.

But June sales fell for the first time in 30 months with 86,048 cars sold, down 2.1% year-on-year.

"Difficulties for the Thai market include the GDP growth downgrade from many research houses, auto loan inspections from the central bank and the simmering US-China trade war," said Michinobu Sugata, president for Toyota Motor Thailand.

"Toyota is not lowering its total market projection of 1 million units sold in 2019 because this estimation is based on Thailand's economic fundamentals."

Some 1.04 million cars were sold in the Thai market last year.

Mr Sugata said the central bank's plan to inspect local auto loans could hurt sentiment in the car market, affecting buyers psychologically, while the trade war is expected to continue to impact Thailand in the near future.

Vudhigorn Suriyachantananont, an executive vice-president of Toyota Motor Thailand, said once the central bank announces its local auto loan findings, Toyota's leasing unit will adjust its loan approval practice in line with regulations.

Toyota reported car sales in the first half rose 20.8% to 171,502 units, capturing a 32.7% market share, up 2.4 percentage points from the end of 2018.

"The growth came from positive feedback to new models from late 2018 to the end of June, covering pickups, passenger cars, eco-cars and vans," said Mr Sugata.

Toyota is expected to meet its domestic sales target of 330,000 units in 2019, a 4.7% rise from last year.

For the first half of 2019, Toyota exported 138,538 units, a 5% decline.

Toyota was the country's largest car exporter, accounting for 24.7% of the country's total exports of 559,861 units for the period, down by 0.4%.

As a result, Toyota reduced its export target for 2019 to 270,000 units, a 8% drop because of ongoing difficulties in Central and South America and Oceania.

Chatchai Taveesakulvadchara, an executive vice-president of Toyota Motor Thailand, said both export regions are suffering from economic downturns.

"Toyota is committed to meeting the expected export volumes. Sentiment in the Middle East seems to be recovering from rising global oil prices, so shipments to that region during the remaining months could offset downturns in other regions," he said.

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