Thailand’s new vehicle market declined by almost 12% to 52,442 units in July2021 after falling by almost 27% to 59,335 units in the same month of last year, according to wholesale data compiled by the Federation of Thai Industries.

Compared with the previous month vehicle sales were down by 15%, after the government tightened social and business restrictions as the country struggled to contain its worse coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began early last year.

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Thailand’s economy expanded for the first time in six quarters in the second quarter of 2021, rebounding by 7.5% year-on-year after shrinking by over 12% a year earlier. But consumer and business confidence has weakened significantly since the recent surge in Covid-Delta infections began in May, prompting the government and the central bank to revise sharply down their full-year growth forecast as the economic recovery continues to weaken.

Increasing numbers of car-buyers have cancelled or delayed their purchases during the current lockdown, while lenders are also rejecting increasing numbers of loan applications as household debt continues to rise – with local reports suggesting the rejection ratio has risen to 50% from 30% during previous waves of the pandemic and from just 5-10% before the pandemic began.

Domestic sales in the first seven months of the year were still up by 4% at 361,425 from 347,521 units in the same period of last year, while vehicle production increased by just over 30% at 342,180 units – reflecting a 36% rise in exports to 544,079 units.