The Thailand new vehicle market declined by 8.2% to 71,688 units in January 2020 from strong year earlier sales of 78,061 units, according to wholesale data compiled by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

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

The vehicle market has also been held back by stricter car loan criteria by banks since the beginning of last year which has resulted in a significant rise in loan rejections especially among small car buyers and small business owners.

Federation spokesman Surapong Paisitpatanapong last month said financial institutions were concerned about the high level of household debt in the country.

Last year, vehicle sales declined by 3.3% to 1,007,552 units from 1,041,739 units in 2018 with strong first half gains wiped out by a sharp second half decline.

Vehicle exports declined by 20% to 65,295 units in January with demand falling in all regions except the Middle East as global economic uncertainty continued to rise while Thai vehicle production fell 13% to 156,266 units.