Vehicle manufacturing in Thailand started after the Thai government began to import auto motives in the 1960s for the country’s economic expansion. This was predicted to focus more on vehicle parts, especially for vehicle bodies and suspensions since the demand in this area has increased. As of the fourth quarter of 2018 alone, the production capacity of automobiles in Thailand reached about 564 thousand units. In addition, passenger cars and one-ton pickups clearly dominated the country’s vehicle manufacturing sector.
Thailand’s economy relies on various significant industries, the automotive industry is the country’s second largest export industry after the computer parts industry. A significant share of Thailand’s international trade is from the inflow and outflow of automotive trading. Initially, Thailand’s manufacturing industry started with the “Anglo-Thai Motor company”, a joint venture between Ford of Britain and the Thai Motor Industry Co., which introduced the imports of vehicle parts and performed local assembly for the domestic market. As of the fourth quarter of 2018, the imports of automobiles and parts showed a promising value of approximately 2.5 billion U.S. dollars. This was an increase when compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Furthermore, vehicle parts and accessories from Thailand were the leading components in terms of export value in Thailand.
Thailand’s automotive industry is driven by several international key players. In 2012, various Japanese automotive companies expressed their interest to continue investments in Thailand, despite Thailand suffering from the catastrophic flood at the end of 2011. Since Japanese automotive enterprises had great confidence in Thailand’s economic attributes, Japanese car brands have been the most sought-after vehicles for Thai consumers. Toyota is certainly one of the most popular car brands in Thailand and it accounted for one third of the market share of domestic car manufacturers in Thailand. Additionally, Toyota cars were the highest selling cars in the country during the first two quarters of 2018.