Thai Floods: Auto output to reach 2 million units in 2012 image

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) on Monday said it expects automotive production in the country to reach a record high of two million vehicles in 2012.

This would translate into a year-on-year increase of 37 percent compared to 2011 when production plunged 11.4 percent to 1.46 million vehicles.

Of total, 733,950 were manufactured for export, accounting for 50.3 percent of total. This showed a 17.9 percent drop from a year earlier. Domestic demand decreased as slightly as 0.80 percent, as 794,080 vehicles were sold in 2011.

“We are very confident that production will reach 2 million this year. There’s a lot of orders left to be delivered from last year in both domestic and export markets,” Surapong Paisitpattanapong, a spokesman for the FTI’s automotive group said.

The country’s flood crisis in late 2011 halted auto production as the mega-floods hit the central provinces, where many industrial estates are located, which immediately led to a shortage of parts to supply the country’s automobile assembly plants.

The floods shuttered more than 16,000 factories, reducing Thailand’s economic growth last year to about 1.5 percent, compared with estimates of as high as 4.5 percent before the deluge, Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said last week.

“Thailand can’t afford a repeat of the floods,” Kittiratt said yesterday. “No one will give us a second chance.”

However, despite the flood that hit the industry hard in the fourth quarter, analysts say Japanese carmakers would continue to shift production to Thailand to take advantage of low costs.

Domestic sales reached 794,081 units last year, down 0.8%.