The Thai new vehicle market declined unexpectedly by 23% to 55,208 units in January 2021 compared with the 71,688 units reported a year earlier, according to wholesale data compiled by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

After beginning to stabilise in the fourth quarter of 2020, the vehicle market experienced another leg down in January 2021 – reflecting weakening domestic sentiment as COVID-19 cases around the world continued to surge. Renewed lockdowns in the west and in some key Asian countries reduced the prospect of a rebound in the depressed tourism sector this year while the outlook for exports had also become much gloomier in the short term.

Toyota Motor Thailand vice-president Surasak Suthongwan told local reporters that customers were "concerned the new wave of the pandemic will greatly affect the economy, businesses and job prospects".

Deliveries of pickup trucks and derivatives fell by 9.6% to 30,107 units last month while sales of other commercial vehicles declined by 9.5% to 2,947 units. SUV sales were up by close to 26% to 6,050 units, while passenger cars sales plunged by almost 47% to 16,104 units.

Toyota reported a decline of 12.4% to 17,679 units in January while Isuzu increased deliveries by almost 7% to 15,248 units. Honda sales plunged by over 50% to 5,657 units, followed by Mitsubishi with 3,320 sales (-45%) and Mazda with 3,170 (-22%).

Among the domestic gloom, the federation also reported a 13.5% rise in vehicle exports to 74,132 units last month.