The local automotive industry believes it can remain relatively unaffected by the global financial meltdown as Thai economic fundamentals remain sound while the domestic and export markets are still healthy, said Toyota Motor Thailand president Mitsuhiro Sonoda. He noted that local automobile sales began shrinking from mid-year but exports climbed steadily. Total vehicle production for both domestic and export markets this year is expected to surpass that of the previous year.
Local buying power has declined slightly as consumers still worried about the future economy, causing them to delay buying the vehicles.
Passenger car sales increased significantly during recent months but trend of the market is switching to smaller cars for the sake of fuel saving. Sales of pickup trucks, however, dropped slightly because of high diesel costs.
''We worry about the crisis that may intensify and closely watch until next year how it will be developed, especially the export markets for Thai-built vehicles,'' Mr Sonoda said at the launch of a new Lexus model yesterday.
However, he noted that most Thai-made vehicles were not destined to the US market and very few to Europe.