Toyota is the largest car manufacturer in Thailand, producing
800,000 vehicles a year. Plans to increase its annual capacity by
200,000 vehicles a year over the next three to four years are now
uncertain, Kyoichi Tanada, president of Toyota's Thai unit, told a
"Our new investment in Thailand may not happen if the current
political crisis goes on longer," Tanada said.
"For new foreign investors, the political situation may force them
to look for opportunity elsewhere. For those that have already
invested, like Toyota, we will not go away. But whether we will
invest (further) or not, we are unsure."
Thailand is the biggest auto market in Southeast Asia and a regional
vehicle production and export base for the world's top car
manufacturers like Honda Motor Co <7267.T> and Ford Motor Co
Protesters have been trying for more than two months to bring down
Thailand's government, forcing ministries to close and Prime
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to shift her workplace as part of an
attempted "shutdown" of the capital.
If the unrest affects economic growth, Toyota may cut its production
in Thailand while it assesses the situation, Tanada said.
"After the shutdown, we have fewer visitors going to our showrooms.
We are ready to cut down our car output if we are affected by the
political situation," he added.
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Toyota produced around 850,000 cars in Thailand in 2013, selling
445,000 domestically and exporting some 430,000 vehicles. This year,
it aims to sell 400,000 cars domestically and export 445,000, Tanada
Overall auto industry sales in Thailand are expected to fall 13.6
percent to 1.15 million vehicles in 2014, mainly due to weaker
consumption and slow economic growth, data from Toyota's Thai unit
This will be the second consecutive year of decline after an 80
percent surge in 2012 fuelled by government subsidies for first-time
car buyers and pent-up demand after severe flooding in late 2011.
Domestic auto sales fell 7.7 percent to 1.33 million vehicles in
2013, according to the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
(Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; editing
by Alan Raybould and Miral Fahmy)
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