* Sees sales falling to 1.2 mln vehicles this year
* Compares with record 1.43 mln in 2012
* Cites ending of first-time buyer subsidies
* Toyota Thai sales seen down 3.1 pct to 500,000 units
* Says to invest 12 bln baht in new plant this year
BANGKOK, Jan 21 Thai automotive industry sales
look set to drop 16 percent in 2013, retreating from a record
2012 boosted by government subsidies, Toyota Motor Corp's
Thai unit said on Monday.
The group said it expected sales to decline to 1.2 million
vehicles this year, after an 80 percent surge in 2012 fuelled by
government subsidies for buyers of first cars.
Industry sales had jumped to a record 1.43 million vehicles
in 2012, also boosted by pent-up demand after severe flooding in
late 2011, Kyoichi Tanada, president of the Toyota Motor Thai
unit, told a news conference.
"Thai auto sales this year will not fall much from last
year. We think the economy will still be good, but there is no
first-car scheme this year," he said.
For Toyota itself, 2013 sales are set to fall 3.1 percent to
500,000 units, giving it a 40 percent market share, with sales
of passenger cars down 11 percent. It aims for exports of
412,000 vehicles worth 168 billion baht this year, plus 70
billion baht of auto parts.
In 2012, its auto sales jumped 78 percent to 516,086
vehicles, with passenger cars up 62.8 percent.
Toyota plans to invest 12 billion baht ($404 million) in the
southeast Asian country to build a second plant at the Gateway
industrial park to produce environmentally friendly cars as well
as vehicles for export, Tanada said.
The plant is expected to be completed in the middle of this
year, which will help boost the firm's capacity at Gateway to
300,000 units per year from 220,000.
Vice Chairman Ninnart Chaithirapinyo said risks to exports
included a stronger baht, caused by capital inflows, and
economic problems in the United States and Europe.
Thailand's daily minimum wage rose to 300 baht ($10) this
month and Tanada said the company would have to increase
productivity by measures such as increased automation to help
The daily minimum wage rose by an average 25.5 percent from
Jan. 1, depending on the region, on top of a 40 percent
nationwide increase last April.
(Reporting by Pisit Changplayngam and Pairat Temphairojana;
Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by David Holmes)