Thailand’s new vehicle market declined by over 17% to 68,271 units in February 2020 from strong year earlier sales of 82,324, according to wholesale data compiled by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

This was the ninth consecutive monthly decline after more than two years of strong growth and reflected a sharp slowdown in economic growth in the country last year to 2.4% from 4.2% in 2018 due mainly to declining exports and sluggish household consumption.

The vehicle market over the last year also had been held back by stricter car loan criteria introduced by local banks, resulting in a significant rise in loan rejections especially among small car buyers and small business owners. 

In the last few months, consumer and business confidence had also been significantly affected by the rapid spread of the COVID19 coronavirus both domestically and overseas.

Bank of Thailand cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.75% last week to help support the economy as the health crisis continued to worsen and has since announced additional measures to help support the country’s financial markets.

Toyota sales plunged by 27.2% to 18,578 units in February compared with peak volumes a year earlier, according to separate industry sources, while Isuzu sales were just 2.1% lower at 14,484 units; Honda 9,761 units (+0.7%); Mitsubishi Motors 5,973 units (-15.6%); Nissan 4,810 units (-19.8%); Mazda 3,000 units (-42.3%); and Ford 2,863 4,602 (-37.8%).

In the first two months of the year sales were down by 12.7% at 139,959 units from 160,385 in the same period of 2019.