Jul 29, 2008, 9:33 GMT
Bangkok - Thailand's automobile exports during the first half of 2008 increased 26 per cent, earning the kingdom 174.8 billion baht (5.2 billion dollars), industry sources disclosed on Tuesday.
During the January to June period, Thailand exported 385,870 pickup trucks and passenger cars, a 26 per cent increase over the same period last year, said Surapong Paisithpatanapong, spokesman for the Auto Club of the Thai Federation of Industries.
Thailand's main export markets for vehicles include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Middle East and Europe.
Although Thailand has no car brands of its own, over the past two decades it has induced most of the world's automotive giants to set up assembly and manufacturing plants in the kingdom to take advantage of its large domestic market, especially for one-ton pickup trucks, and use it as an export base for the region.
Pickup trucks, multi-purpose vehicles well suited to Thailand's agro-based economy, have traditionally accounted for more than 60 per cent of all sales on the domestic market and the lion's share of exports.
During the first half of this year, some 207,424 pickup trucks were sold on the domestic market, up only 4 per cent, and there were signs of a sales slowdown in May and June when diesel prices soared.
Meanwhile, during the same period, some 110,000 passenger cars were sold, up 42 per cent, with models capable of using mixed ethanol fuels accounting for 34 per cent of the cars sold, said Surapong.