TOKYO, July 30 (Reuters) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp warned on Tuesday of further falls in demand in Thailand, Southeast Asia’s largest car market, after Bangkok ended subsidies for first-time buyers last year.
Mitsubishi Motors, which operates three vehicle plants in Thailand, wants to cover the drop in demand by exporting vehicles to other countries within ASEAN and possibly Australia, Yoshihiro Kuroi, a senior executive officer told a news conference.
Japan’s seventh biggest automaker out of eight by sales volume posted a 7.4 percent rise in quarterly operating profit after a weakening yen offset a large sales drop in its biggest market Thailand.
Carmakers including Mitsubishi Motors are seeing cancellations of orders in Thailand after government subsidies for buyers of a first car ended last year, Kuroi said.
That comes as carmakers including Mitsubishi Motors, ramped up production in Thailand, a regional vehicle manufacturing and export base, that was bouncing back from the impact of floods that hit the area in late 2011, he said.
Mitsubishi’s Thai sales in April-June dropped 24 percent year-on-year to around 20,800 vehicles. In the same period a year ago, it posted strong sales after the Mirage compact car went on sale.
That compares with a 1 percent drop in Thailand’s industry-wide vehicle sales in April-June, a Mitsubishi spokeswoman said.
Mitsubishi Motors has revised down its estimates for industry-wide sales for the year to end-March 2014 to around 1.1 million or 1.2 million vehicles, Kuroi said.
The carmaker booked 16.0 billion yen ($163.3 million) in operating profit for the April-June quarter, up 7.4 percent from a year ago, helped by a weakening yen that allows carmakers to convert money made abroad at a more favourable rate than before.
It also saw strong vehicle sales in Australia and Latin America and stuck to its annual operating profit forecast of 100 billion yen. ($1 = 97.9750 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)