Vehicle sales in Thailand dropped 12.2% year-on-year in July to 44,852 units, according to data released by Toyota Motor (Thailand), with demand for pick-up trucks plummeted as motorists opted increasingly for more fuel-efficient forms of transport.

But sales of passenger cars, particularly biofuel-compatible models, have soared this year following an excise tax cut in January.

This was the second monthly decline in overall vehicle sales this year following a 5.9% drop in June, reversing the recent market recovery after two years of falling sales - in 2006 and 2007.

In the first seven months of 2008, vehicle sales were up just 6.6% to 366,247 units, compared with a 13.4% increase in the first five months of the year.

Sales of one-tonne pick-up trucks fell by 32.7% year-on-year in July to 21,290 units, after a 22.4% drop in June to 24,005 units.

The sharp drop in pick-up sales in the last two months reversed earlier gains, with cumulative sales at the end of July 5.5% lower year-on-year at 203,178 units. By contrast, sales of passenger cars rose 31.7% in the same period.

Toyota's Thai vice-president Vutigorn Suriyachantananont hopes the drop in diesel prices in the last two weeks, in response to falling crude oil prices, will help stabilise the pickup segment in coming months.

Nevertheless, his company now anticipates further demand weakness in the second half. At the end of July Toyota revised sharply lower its full-year forecasts for the Thai market - to 650,000 units, from the 700,000 units it had forecast at the beginning of the year.

Mitsubishi suffered the sharpest drop in pick-up sales in July, with volumes falling by 56.6% year-on-year to 571 units, followed by Chevrolet with 370 units (-55.9%); Ford with 452 (-54.6%); Toyota 9,875 (-37.5%); Mazda 421 (-32.4%); Nissan 1,394 (-27.3%); and Isuzu 8,194 (-19.7%).

Tony Pugliese

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more