Thailand’s new vehicle market expanded by just 6.4% to 61,758 units in June 2021 after falling by 33% to 58,013 units in the same month of last year, according to wholesale data compiled by the Federation of Thai Industries.

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

Thai consumer and business sentiment continued to plunge in June as the Delta and Alpha COVID-19 variants continued to spread rapidly across the country with the government forced to increase social and business restrictions.

Bank of Thailand this week said this latest virus outbreak could cost the country up to two percentage points in GDP growth this year as plans to relaunch the all-important tourism industry continue to be delayed. Last month it cut its full-year GDP growth forecast to 1.8%, while the World Bank said the Thai economy was not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2022, after shrinking by 6.1% in 2020.

Vehicle sales in the first six months of the year were up by just 7.2% at 308,983 units from 288,186 units in the same period of last year. The FTI revised down its full-year sales forecast to below 750,000 units, from 792,146 actual sales in 2020, to reflect the adverse effects of the current COVID surge on consumer purchasing power.

Vehicle production jumped by 74% year-on-year to 74,574 units in June and by over 39% to 844,601 units in the first half of the year following surging export orders due to pent-up global demand, prompting the federation to raise its full-year output forecast    to 1.55m-1.6m million vehicles. It also lifted its full-year vehicle export forecast from 750,000 units to 800,000-850,000 units.