Vehicle sales in Thailand rose by 57.7% year-on-year to 54,175 units in February, compared with very depressed levels a year earlier – when just 34,361 units were sold, according to data released by Toyota Motor Thailand.

This was the sixth consecutive monthly increase for the market and gives rise to optimism that the market is finally recovering after four years of decline. Kyoichi Tanada, president of Toyota Motor Thailand, last month said he expected the market to expand by 9% to 600,000 units in 2010, from 548,871 units in 2009.

Sales in the first two months of the year increased by 56.1% 103,735 units, from 66,446 a year early.

Sales of passenger cars have benefited from increased demand for more fuel-efficient private vehicles over the last couple of years – especially in urban areas. Volumes rose by 57.3% to 22,404 units in February, from 14,247 units a year earlier. Sales in the first two months of the year were up by 55.3% to 43,125 units, from 27,774 units.

Demand for pickup trucks is starting to bounce back from very depressed levels, reflecting improving rural incomes as prices for agricultural produce and commodities have increased significantly over the last year.

Pickup truck sales rose by 57.7% to 27,476 units in February, from 17,424 units a year earlier. Cumulative sales were up by 55.7%, from 33,485 to 52,124 units.

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By GlobalData

The Bangkok Motor Show, which starts in late March, is expected to help drive sales in the next few months.

Tony Pugliese