New vehicle sales in Thailand declined by just over 4% to 77,433 units in September 2020 from already weak volume a year earlier, according to wholesale data compiled by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

This was an improvement on previous months, however, after sales fell by 15% year on year in August, by 27% in July and by 50% in the second quarter of the year when widespread lockdowns caused the economy to shrink by 12%.

Month on month sales in September were up by over 12% which the FTI said was due to easing social and business restrictions, government stimulus measures and new model launches by the main vehicle manufacturers.

Key sectors of the economy were still under significant pressure, however, particularly those dependent on travel, tourism and exports.

Total sales in the first nine months of 2020 were down by over 29% to 543,219 units from 761,847 last year.

The FTI now expected full year sales to reach 700,000 units in 2020 provided there was not a significant increase in COVID-19 infections. 

Sales of electric vehicles were expected to reach 2,000 units this year, up from 802 units in 2019.

Thai vehicle production fell 11.3% to 150,345 units in September and by almost 39% to 963,066 units year to date but the FTI still targeted output of 1.4m for 2020.

Exports fell 34.4% to 63,941 vehicles in September and 36.6% to 521,450 in the first nine months.