The 41st Bangkok International Motor Show got under way this week at the Impact Muang Thong Thani exhibition centre in Thailand's capital city, with local vehicle manufacturers looking to put behind them a dismal first half of the year.

The annual 12 day show normally takes place late in March but its local organiser Grand Prix International was forced to postpone the show due to lockdown regulations put in place earlier that month to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local vehicle manufacturers are hoping for a recovery in domestic demand in the second half of the year as the government continues to ease social and economic restrictions now that the coronavirus outbreak looks to be firmly under control.

Local reports suggest there have been no locally transmitted cases of virus for around seven weeks and the government is now keen to get the economy restarted.

Ford Thailand managing director Wichit Wongwatthanakan said he expected the domestic vehicle market to reach 600,000-650,000 units this year, down by 35%-40% from just over 1m units last year.

Pongsak Lertruedeewattanavong, vice-president of MG Sales Thailand, a subsidiary of SAIC Motor, agreed with the assessment the overall vehicle market would decline by between 30-40% this year.

BMW Thailand's director of corporate communications was more upbeat about his company's own sales prospects, with customers in the luxury car segments continuing to enjoy strong purchasing power.

Total vehicle sales in the first five months of the year were down by over 38% at 270,591 units from 437,722 units in the same period of 2019.

Exports fell by over 66% to 300,501 units in this period while output was down 40% to 534,428 units.