Thailand’s new vehicle market declined by almost 13% to 58,960 units in February 2021 compared with 67,533 units a year earlier, according to wholesale data compiled by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

The data excluded some significant brands, particularly commercial vehicles by Chinese and European manufacturers and also BMW and Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles.   

After stabilising in the fourth quarter of 2020, the Thai vehicle market has since declined sharply, reflecting weakening domestic sentiment as the government announced more social restrictions in response to a new spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. Surging infection rates and renewed lockdowns in other countries have also reduced the prospect of a rebound in Thailand’s depressed tourism sector this year.

Last month Toyota Motor Thailand vice-president Surasak Suthongwan told reporters: “Customers are concerned the new wave of the pandemic will greatly affect the economy, businesses and job prospects.”

Deliveries of pickup trucks and derivatives fell by 6.6% to 31,169 units in February while sales of other commercial vehicles jumped by over 20% to 2,974 units. SUVs sales were also up sharply, by over 35% at 5,848 units, while passenger car sales plunged by over 30% to 18,969 units.

Isuzu reported an almost 14% sales rise to 16,477 units last month, helped by strong demand for commercial vehicles including its recently released D-Max pickup truck. Toyota came second after its sales fell by close to 15% to 15,860 units, while Honda’s sales were down by almost 8% at 9,007 units; Mitsubishi Motors 3,642 (-39%); Mazda 3,076 (+2.5%); and Ford 2,601 (-9.1%).

In the first two months of 2021 the overall vehicle market shrank by 16.5% to 114,168 units from 136,766 units in the same period of last year.