SAIC Motor-CP bullish on SUV segment
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.