New vehicle sales in Thailand increased by 43.9% in April to 57,128 units, compared with 39,713 units a year earlier, according to data released by Toyota Motor Thailand .

The strong growth in deliveries to dealers last month was helped by a successful Bangkok Motor Show, which took place at the end of March and early April, and compares with depressed year-earlier levels.

The country’s GDP expanded by 12% in the first quarter of 2010, as the economy rebounded from last year’s deep recession. Cumulative sales for the January-April period increased by 51.8% to 223,940 units, from 147,487 units a year earlier.

New model launches, strong pent-up demand and competitive financing encouraged buyers to shrug off the rising political tensions in Bangkok last month. Passenger car deliveries increased by 64.4% to 26,274 units in April, from 15,981 units a year earlier, helped by strong demand for the newly launched Mazda 2 sub-compact car.

Other similarly-sized models were launched at the show, including the Ford Fiesta and the Nissan Micra. But domestic sentiment is expected to have dented by the political unrest that has taken place this month and sales could slow again in the short term.

Commercial vehicle sales increased by 30% to 30,854 units, from 23,732 units, including a 23% rise in pickup truck sales to 25,885 units.

Tony Pugliese

See also: THAILAND: Sales boom despite political strife

Blog posting: Thoughts on Thailand