BANGKOK, July 17 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp’s Thai unit said on Tuesday it expected the Thai automotive industry to achieve record sales of 1.2 million units in 2012, helped by government subsidies.
Sales last year totalled 794,081 vehicles but President Kyoichi Tanada told a news conference the sector had returned to normal after devastating floods last October that forced many plants to close for months.
As a result, Toyota expected its own sales to increase 65.5 percent this year to 480,000 units.
Executive Vice-President Wichien Emprasertsuk said a Thai government subsidy for buyers of first cars had helped increase demand for its Yaris and Vios models, and may help account for 50 percent of total sales for the two.
“The Thai automotive industry’s outlook next year will largely depend on whether the government will decide to continue its first-car tax subsidy or allow the reservation period to be extended,” Wichien said.
The finance ministry is reported to be seeking approval from the cabinet to extend the scheme to mid-2013 after manufacturers complained customers may not be able to receive their tax rebate due to backlogs causing delivery to be delayed beyond the eligible timeframe.
“These factors will determine sales numbers next year,” Wichien said.
The car maker said it did not expect a major impact from the crisis in the euro zone as Europe only accounted for 3 percent of its exports from Thailand. Its main export market is the Middle East, followed by Asia and Oceania.
Reporting by Sinsiri Tiwutanond; Editing by Alan Raybould