SAIC Mo­tor-CP bullish on SUV seg­ment

Bangkok Post - - BUSINESS - PIYACHART MAIKAEW

Chi­nese-Thai joint ven­ture SAIC Mo­torCP Co says it is up­beat on lo­cal sen­ti­ment for its sport-util­ity ve­hi­cles (SUVs), ex­pect­ing the seg­ment to be more com­pet­i­tive against other pas­sen­ger cars.

Yes­ter­day the com­pany in­tro­duced a new SUV un­der the Bri­tish brand MG, a 1.5-litre small SUV priced be­tween 679,000789,000 baht. The MG ZS, its sec­ond SUV model af­ter MG GS, aims to com­pete with mod­els like the Honda BR-V, Nis­san Juke and Ford EcoS­port.

Pongsak Lertrudee­wat­tanavong, vi­cepres­i­dent for dis­tri­bu­tion at the com­pany’s sub­sidiary MG Sales Thai­land, said the SUV mar­ket in Thai­land has more po­ten­tial than in past decades be­cause Thais are de­mand­ing a va­ri­ety of mod­els, not just sedans and hatch­backs as in the past.

“The lo­cal SUV mar­ket is grow­ing in line with global trends. We ex­pect SUV sales world­wide to reach 30 mil­lion by 2020 from 24.32 mil­lion in 2016,” he said, cit­ing fig­ures from au­to­mo­tive re­search house Jato.

Mr Pongsak said the SUV mar­ket is pro­jected to ac­count for 20% of pas­sen­ger cars in the near fu­ture, ex­clud­ing pickup pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Thai In­dus­tries re­ported the pas­sen­ger car mar­ket in­clud­ing SUVs in 2016 dropped by 7.84% to 328,146 units sold. SUVs ac­counted for 14.7% with 48,269 cars sold, down by 15%.

MG ex­pects SUVs to ac­count for up to 50% of its sales vol­ume next year from 20% cur­rently. The MG 3 hatch­back is its main model, com­pris­ing half of an­nual sales.

The com­pany ex­pects sales of 12,000 units of MG ZS in 2018.

SAIC Mo­tor-CP’s 9-bil­lion-baht Ray­ong plant be­gan op­er­a­tions in June 2014, mak­ing 50,000 cars per year. Its MG cars have been sold lo­cally.

In Novem­ber 2015, the com­pany bought 438 rai in Chon Buri from He­maraj Land and De­vel­op­ment.

SAIC Mo­tor-CP an­nounced in May last year its plans to build a new plant cov­er­ing 700,000 square me­tres to han­dle assem­bly pro­cesses un­der one roof. The com­pany’s in­vest­ment bud­get is 30-40 bil­lion baht, aim­ing to make 300,000 ve­hi­cles a year.

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