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Uncertainty clouds auto output

Carmakers still cannot plan when they can run their local plants on overtime even though limited production in Japan began early this week.Japanese carmakers will meet Industry Minister Chaiwuti Bannawat tomorrow to update him on the shortage of parts from Japan.

Suparat Sirisuwannangkura, president of the Automotive Industry Club under the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said yesterday that the headquarters in Japan have to ration parts among their manufacturing sites worldwide based on volume, so parts for plants in Thailand are insufficient. Deliveries to buyers of some models will continue to be delayed due to the parts shortage.

Once carmakers have enough parts to resume normal operations, they will all ramp up production to fill demand and meet their sales target this year.

The club will not revise its output target of 1.8 million units this year.

Atchaka Sibunruang, secretary-general of the Board of Investment, recently told him that some parts makers in Japan might relocate abroad, as investing in their country may be just as costly as investing offshore. This change may solve the problem of supply shortages if disaster strikes again.

The club reported that production last month set a new record of 172,004 units – up 13.8 per cent year on year and 14.1 per cent on quarter.

For January-March, output rose 22.5 per cent to 468,981 units from the same quarter last year.

Passenger cars accounted for 177,259 units or 37.8 per cent. Passenger car production in the quarter increased 56.17 per cent on year, thanks to the popularity of small cars at home and overseas.

Pickup truck production reached 284,991 units, up 7.9 per cent year on year.

FTI president Payungsak Chartsuthipol said the Sentiment Index in March dropped for the second month to 102.3 from 108.2 in February due to concern over possible declines in sales, production volume and operating results. The factors depressing industrial confidence were flooding in the South, which had an impact on agriculture and related industries, business and tourism; the unrest in the Middle East; and the nuclear power plant disruption in Japan.

The club also disclosed that sales of new vehicles last month soared 47.5 per cent on year thanks to the improvements in the domestic economy and purchasing power.

In March, 93,008 units were sold, up 20.46 per cent from the previous month.

Suparat said good agricultural prices as well as robust export performance buoyed domestic auto demand.

In the first quarter, vehicle sales surged 43.1 per cent on year to 238,619 units. Motorcycle sales increased 11.7 per cent to 520,991 units.

Source: The Nation


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