Sub-compacts take over Thai auto market

Lower running costs and attractive upfront investment are transforming the passenger vehicle market in Thailand, with the sub-compact vehicle now accounting for more than 50% of the market according to Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co. (HATC; Bangkok). Responding to this trend, HATC plans to ramp up to maximum capacity from September for the first time ever to cater to demand for its Brio, City, and Jazz sub-compacts, as well as its Civic compact car.

Lower running costs and attractive upfront investment are transforming the passenger vehicle market in Thailand, with the sub-compact vehicle now accounting for more than 50% of the market according to Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co. (HATC; Bangkok). Responding to this trend, HATC plans to ramp up to maximum capacity from September for the first time ever to cater to demand for its Brio, City, and Jazz sub-compacts, as well as its Civic compact car.

Honda 1
Sub-compact cars bring opportunities for plastics.
Honda 2
"All our lines will be operating at 100%, producing 1,000 units per day to meet our delivery commitments, especially for the Brio, to customers in Thailand as well as in other countries," says HATC president Atsushi Fujimoto. The Brio is designated an eco-car under Thai law given its low fuel consumption. It is powered by a 1.2-L engine turning out 9o HP and measures just 142.1 inches in length (a full foot shorter than the already compact Fit), while it is 66.1 inches wide and 58.1 inches high.

According to HATC, the sub-compact and compact sectors accounted for 79% of passenger vehicle sales in 2010 and similar levels are expected in 2011 and 2012. Since 2010 when the first eco-car hit the market, this "A-Segment" market sector has grown 10-fold and HATC expects the market to exhibit fastest growth over the next three years.

While cars are getting smaller in Thailand, they also feature all the mod-cons, while lightweighting is also a key requirement. This is evidenced by the plastics-intensive interior of the Brio, which is good news for local plastics processors. Industry observers note that despite downsizing in vehicle size, opportunities will continue to emerge as automakers target weight reductions and greater engine efficiency.

It's important to note, however, that pickup trucks continue to play an important role in the Thai market. Pickup truck and SUV production in Thailand in 2010 totaled 1,066,4579 vehicles versus 554,267 passenger vehicles. Plastics utilization in pick-up trucks is typically high.-mpweditorial@ubm.com

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