January vehicle sales were up sharply in both Thailand and Indonesia with Indonesia posting ASEAN's biggest national total  - ahead of both Malaysia and Thailand - for the first time.

Vehicle sales in Thailand grew by 54% to 49,560 units in January, compared with 32,085 units a year earlier – when sales reached their lowest level during last year’s financial crisis. The government is increasingly optimistic that a sustainable recovery in the economy is underway and expects GDP growth of between 4.5-5.0% this year provided that any political upheaval does not hurt domestic confidence.

Local distributor Tri Petch Isuzu expects vehicle sales to rise by close to 10% this year after four years of decline, driven by a recovery in pickup truck sales. It forecasts total vehicle sales to reach 600,000 units, compared with 548,858 units in 2009.

Passenger cars remained a key part of the market in January, however, despite the strong growth over the last two years, with volumes rising by 53.2%, from 13,527 to 20,721 units. Sales of pickup trucks increased by 53.4% to 24,648 units compared with a multi-year low of 16,061 units a year earlier.

Vehicle sales in Indonesia also rose sharply last month, by 67.1% year-on-year to 52,831 units – compared with year-earlier sales of 31,624 units. This makes it the largest vehicle market in the ASEAN for the first time in January, ahead of both Malaysia (vehicle sales in Malaysia increased by 32.8% to 50,622 units) and Thailand. Compared with December, Indonesian vehicle sales were up by over 10%.

Tony Pugliese

See also:
MALAYSIA: New vehicle sales jump 33% in January