KResearch expects that the third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak will cause domestic car sales in the second quarter of 2021 to be 150,000-155,000 units, a decrease from 189,093 units in the first quarter of 2021 or a contraction of 18.0-20.7% QoQ. In addition, the shortage of auto chips experienced by several automakers may delay vehicle production and delivery. In the third quarter, the domestic auto market is expected to recover thanks to the accelerated vaccination from June 2021 onwards, coupled with the likely gradual easing of the chip shortage, leading domestic auto sales to increase by an expected 27.9-39.0% QoQ to 195,000-212,000 units. As to the fourth quarter of 2021, domestic auto sales will continue to rise to 246,000-264,000 units or up by 20.9-29.7% over the previous quarter, with the key variable being the acceleration of vaccination to reach more of the population.
The domestic auto sales may reach 780,000-820,000 units in 2021, ranging from a contraction of 1.5% to an increase of 3.5% YoY. Sales of small passenger cars will be the most affected, because the primary buyers are medium-income groups whose incomes are greatly impacted.
By contrast, Thai car exports exhibit a promising outlook during 2021 because Thailand's major trade partners have effectively combated the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, Japanese automakers have positioned Thailand as a production base for several models for export to other countries, including to Japan. KResearch expects that if there is no serious return of the COVID-19 pandemic abroad, especially in Thailand’s key export markets, Thailand’s total vehicle production may reach at least 1.8 million units in 2021, at an increase of 26.0% YoY.
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