Thailand’s new vehicle market plunged by almost 42% to 60,105 units in March 2020 from strong year-earlier sales of units 103,164 units, according to wholesale data compiled by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

The global COVID19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the local vehicle market so far this year with volume decline accelerating in March as the government implemented increasingly strict lockdown policies to help slow the spread of the virus.

The country’s GDP is estimated to have slowed sharply in the first quarter, reflecting weak exports and declining domestic consumption.

Late last month, Bank of Thailand said it expected the GDP to contract 5.3% in 2020, down from its previous forecast of 2.8% at the beginning of the year.

The central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.75% in February to help support domestic consumption.

The World Bank forecasting a more moderate 3% economic decline this year, with exports falling by 5.5% and private consumption 1.8% lower. 

Sales of pickup based vehicles fell 41.8% to 30,296 units in March while passenger car sales declined by 48.3% to 20,698 units and SUV sales were 17% lower at 5,756 units.

Sales of commercial vehicles, excluding pickup-based vehicles, fell by 17.9% to 3,355 units.

Toyota sales plunged by over 49% to 17,282 units last month, according to separate sources, while Isuzu sales dropped by 21.8% to 13,629 units, Honda 7,506 units (-31.9%), Mitsubishi Motors 4,998 (-50.2%), Nissan 3,236 units (-57.7%), Mazda 3,113 units (-49.2%) and Ford 2,207 (-60.4%).

Total vehicle sales in the first quarter of the year were down by 24.1% at 200,064 units from 263,549 units in the same period of 2019. The FTI is soon expected to cut its full year sales forecast again, from its already lowered forecast of 950,000 units.