Bangkok Post

Mitsubishi sees big sales drop

End of first-car scheme, floods affect sentiment


Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors expects its Thai sales to drop by 15-20% this year as the government’s first-time car buyer scheme ends, with widespread floods further dampening sales prospects in the last four months.

Nobuyuki Murahashi, president of Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand), said the company anticipate­s around 110,000 to 120,000 units will be sold in Thailand this year, down from 140,000 units in 2012, as overall domestic car sales shrink following the expiration of the government’s first-time car buyer scheme.

The entire industry reported monthly sales of 95,000 units in July and August compared to 700,000 units sold in the first six months, he said.

‘‘How the market will look in the last four months is hard to predict but many automakers are launching promotion campaigns to boost sales. Hopefully, the figure will improve,’’ said Mr Murahashi.

However, he pointed out that escalating floods could have psychologi­cal impacts on car sales for the rest of the year.

‘‘Rains normally reduce in October and farmers begin to harvest the crops. This is the normal high season for car sales. But if it doesn’t look like the rains will stop, consumers might be concerned they will not be able to pay the instalment­s and thus delay buying a car,’’ he said.

On the other hand, Mitsubishi exports Nobuyuki Murahashi (left), president of Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand), shakes hands with Ticon Logistics Park general manager Patan Somburanas­in after the agreement. from Thailand are expected to grow this year for both completely built units and automotive parts, said Mr Murahashi.

With three plants in Laem Chabang on the Eastern Seaboard, Mitsubishi has a maximum capacity of 500,000 units per year here, with Thailand ranking the company’s second-largest production centre globally after Japan.

Mr Murahashi said Mitsubishi projects a total 300,000 units will be shipped from Thailand this year, up some 200,000 units from 2012. Of the overall shipments, 250,000 units will be pickup trucks and pickup passenger vehicles (PPVs) with Mirage eco-cars accounting for the rest.

The automaker also targets to start exporting its new Mitsubishi Attrage eco-car later this year, initially to neighbouri­ng markets such as the Philippine­s and Malaysia. Asean is currently the biggest export market of Mitsubishi’s Thai unit, accounting for more than 20% of total shipments.

In terms of parts and accessorie­s, the company expects shipments to increase by 18% this year from 2.5 billion baht last year, he added.

Mitsubishi has signed a three-year contract with Ticon Logistics Park Co (TPARK) to rent the latter’s warehouse in Si Racha with a total space of 25,000 square metres.

Located 21km from Mitsubishi’s plants, the new distributi­on centre at TPARK becomes the largest automotive part and accessory warehouse in Asia for all export models produced by Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand), serving 140 markets globally.

With an investment of 2 billion baht, TPARK is located on 317 rai and will be developed with a total space of nearly 140,000 sq m of warehouses, said general manager Patan Somburanas­in.

Mr Murahashi said Mitsubishi is interested in joining the second phase of eco-car scheme and has contacted government agencies for the criteria.

The company spent 16 billion baht on the first phase of the eco-car programme that was launched in 2007.

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