New vehicle sales in Thailand rose by just 4.6% to 67,952 units in June 2022 from 64,978 units in the same month of last year, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

The domestic economy continued to recover from the last year’s Covid restrictions with the government continuing to ease travel restrictions which is helping the all important tourism sector rebound from 2021 lows. International arrivals remain far below pre-pandemic levels, however.

Bank of Thailand kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a historic low of 0.5% to further support the domestic economic recovery despite surging inflation due to rising energy and commodity prices. The Thai baht has fallen by over 12% against the US dollar since February.

Domestic vehicle sales in the first half of 2022 increased 15% to 426,730 units compared with 370,335 units in the same period of last year, driven by strong demand for passenger cars and pickup trucks.

Surapong Paisitpatanapong, vice-chairman and spokesman for the FTI’s automotive club, revised down his domestic market outlook for 2022 to 850,000 units, citing increasing headwinds including high household debt and rising prices. This would be a 12% rise on last year’s 759,199 sales, however. Toyota raised its own full year sales forecast to 290,000 units, a 21% increase.

The association maintained its full year vehicle export forecast at 900,000 units despite an 11% drop in June.