The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is urging the Thai government to introduce scrappage incentives to help the domestic vehicle market recover quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to local reports.
The latest wholesale data released by the federation shows vehicle sales in the country fell 24% to 200,064 units in the first quarter of 2020 from 263,549 units in the same period of last year with sales in March plunging by 42%.
Preliminary data suggested sales in April declined by over 60% to 33,000 units.
Vehicle production fell by over 19% to 453,682 units in the first quarter while exports were down by over 16% at 253,904 units.
Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Ford and Mazda have shut down local production in March and April due to local lockdown regulations and falling global demand.
A number of manufacturers told the FTI they are already planning to lay off full time workers while temporary contracts are already not being extended and in some cases voluntary resignation plans have been offered to workers.
The federation said a rapid recovery in the domestic vehicle market would help safeguard thousands of auto sector jobs in the country and help stabilise the overall economy.
Surapong Paisitpatanapong, spokesman for the FTI automotive club, told reporters his organisation was urging the government to make available incentives for owners to trade in vehicles older than 20 years for new eco friendly models.
He estimated there were around 2m such vehicles in circulation at present.
The programme would depend on vehicle manufacturers also agreeing to offer incentives and should be allowed to specify which models would qualify.
The federation is also calling on the government to extend the August income tax deadline by one year to allow local automakers to maintain adequate levels of working capital.