Thai Auto Sales Rise 8.3%

Consumers feeling more confident

As consumers turned upbeat on the political outlook ahead of the country's first polls since last year's coup, Thai auto sales rose 8.3% year-on-year in September, an industry group said Oct. 17.

Sales increased to 53,491 units last month, Toyota Motor's Thai unit said. "Consumers are feeling more confident about spending money as political uncertainty is easing" ahead of the general elections on December 23, Toyota said, adding economic improvement also helped lift auto sales.

But vehicle sales in the first nine months of the year fell 7.6% from a year earlier to 451,326 units, the automaker said. Thailand Motor Thailand, the kingdom's largest automaker, revised down its forecast in August for overall domestic car sales to 650,000 units from the previous target of 700,000 units. The revised estimate is 4.7% lower than sales last year.

Sales of Japanese auto companies Toyota, Isuzu and Honda account for 80% of the Thai market.

The auto market has been hit hard by a prolonged slump in consumer confidence amid the country's political turmoil over premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by the military in a bloodless coup last year.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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