BANGKOK, Dec 16 (Bernama) — Proton continues to make an impact at the Thai automotive sector when it received 863 bookings during the recent 25th Thailand International Motor Expo.
The Malaysian national carmaker came sixth with 5.9 percent of total number of orders, ahead of established brands like Mazda with 767 bookings, Mitsubishi (756), Ford (301) and another Malaysian manufacturer Naza (154).
Japanese top carmaker Toyota retained its top spot after receiving 4,193 bookings, followed by Honda with 2,552 orders, Isuzu (1,760), Chevrolet (1,194) and Nissan (1,008).
More than 1.5 million people visited the motor expo which received a total of 14,000 orders.
Phranakorn Auto Sales‘ general manager (operations), Apichart Wangsatorntanakhun, said the total sales was down by about 20 percent compared to last year’s average of 1,050 units.
“But we are satisfied with the number of bookings because all the other manufacturers also saw 20 to 30 percent drop in orders due to the current economic situation,” Apichart said in an interview here.
He said Persona CNG was the most-sought model during the show while Gen 2 and Satria Neo also did well.
According to Apichart, the Persona model, fitted with pre-installed compressed natural gas (CNG) kits and launched in the Thai market in October this year, attracted car buyers looking for energy-saving models although the oil price has dropped sharply to less than US$50 per barrel after reaching almost US$150 per barrel in middle of the year.
“There is a lot of interest in Persona CNG as buyers get value for their money… the oil price is very volatile now. On the other hand, Gen 2 is popular in upcountry while Neo’s new colour is attracting new buyers,” he said.
Apichart said Phranakorn Auto Sales, a subsidiary of PNA Group and Proton’s authorised dealer in the country, currently has 34 dealers throughout Thailand, including 10 in the capital.
He said they have sold close to 3,000 units this year, and hope to bring new models during another motor show here at the end of March next year.
Proton made its entry into the Japanese manufacturers dominated Thai market at the end of 2007, bringing in the Savvy, Neo and Gen 2 models, taking advantage of the low five percent import duty imposed under the Asean Free Trade Area agreement.