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The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI)’s Automotive Industry Club is confident about Thailand’s economy picking up in the latter part of this year, which they believe will positively impact electric vehicle (EV) sales.

Surapong Paisitpattanapong, vice president of the FTI’s auto club, dismissed claims that the Thai market had saturated. He pointed out that only 766 EVs were made in Thailand in February, and about 1,400 in the first two months of 2024.

He mentioned that the sales dip in February affected not only EVs but also pickups and other vehicles with internal combustion engines. This slowdown, he said, was due to the ongoing economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surapong noted that EV manufacturing capacity is expected to increase from the middle of the year. In February, a total of 133,690 vehicles, including EVs, were produced, showing a 19.28 percent year-on-year decrease and a 5.92 percent drop from January.

Domestic sales also fell by 9.25 percent compared to the previous month. Surapong highlighted a 32.96 percent decrease in vehicle exports in February, partly due to reduced production of key parts by spare part manufacturers. Competition from imported EVs from China and reduced pickup production, due to financing difficulties faced by some buyers, added to market challenges.

Combined production figures for January and February amounted to 275,792 vehicles, showing a 15.90 percent decline compared to the same period last year. Surapong pointed out a 14.56 percent year-on-year drop in sedan car production, with 50,441 units produced in February.

Surapong attributed the subdued EV sales in the initial months of 2024 not to decreased demand but to financial constraints faced by potential buyers due to income reductions and mounting debt from the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

Looking forward, the auto club expects an increase in vehicle sales, especially EVs, in the second half of the year. They anticipate this due to expected government spending boosts, potential interest rate cuts by the Bank of Thailand, and measures to help debtors, all of which could stimulate economic growth and increase purchasing power.

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