Economic Shifts Steering Thailand’s Auto Market 2023

Impact of Economic and Policy Changes on Vehicle Sales in Thailand (2023)

In 2023, Thailand’s automotive market faced significant shifts driven by a combination of economic factors and policy changes. The interplay of these elements has reshaped the landscape for vehicle sales, presenting both challenges and opportunities for major brands. Our Thailand Automotive Consulting team examines how these economic and policy changes have impacted vehicle sales in Thailand, providing insights into how leading automotive brands have navigated these changes.

Thailand – Production and Retail Sales of New Vehicles (Jan-Dec 2023)

 Dec 2023Growth Y-o-Y (%)Jan-Dec 2023Growth YTD (%)
Domestic Sales68,326-17.5%775,780-8.7%
Export (CBU)90,305-19.1%1,117,53911.7%

Source: FTI, MarkLines

Economic Factors Influencing Vehicle Sales

One of the most prominent economic factors affecting vehicle sales in Thailand is the increase in household debt. By 2023, household debt levels had surpassed 90% of the country’s GDP, creating a cautious consumer spending environment. This high debt burden has made it more difficult for many consumers to obtain financing for new vehicle purchases, leading to a noticeable decline in sales.

Additionally, the economic slowdown and delayed 2024 fiscal budget have further strained the market. The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) reported a 17.5% year-over-year decrease in December vehicle sales, with total sales for the year reaching 775,780 units—a decline of 8.7% from the previous year. This economic backdrop has forced both consumers and manufacturers to adapt to tighter financial conditions.

Policy Changes and Their Impact

Policy changes have also played a crucial role in shaping the automotive market in 2023. Stricter financial regulations, particularly those affecting auto loans, have led to higher rejection rates for vehicle financing. These stringent requirements have made it more challenging for consumers to secure the necessary funds for purchasing new vehicles, contributing to the overall decline in sales.

Moreover, government incentives for electric vehicles (EVs) have spurred a shift towards more sustainable vehicle options. Brands like BYD and Neta have benefited from these policies, experiencing significant growth in sales. BYD, for instance, saw a staggering year-over-year sales increase of 9653.8%, selling 30,432 units in 2023. This surge highlights the growing acceptance and demand for EVs in Thailand, driven by favorable government policies and increasing environmental awareness among consumers.

Performance of Major Automotive Brands

Despite these economic and policy challenges, some brands have managed to maintain their market positions. Toyota, the leading brand in Thailand, sold 265,949 units in 2023, capturing a 34.3% market share. Although this represents a 7.9% decrease from the previous year, Toyota’s strong brand reputation and extensive dealer network have helped it weather the economic downturn.

Isuzu, known for its commercial vehicles, experienced a more significant decline, with sales dropping by 28.5% to 151,935 units. The Isuzu D-Max remained a popular model, but the overall decrease in sales reflects the broader market challenges.

Honda, on the other hand, demonstrated resilience with a 13.9% increase in sales, reaching 94,336 units. This positive performance can be attributed to Honda’s ability to adapt to changing consumer preferences and its strong portfolio of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Shifts in Consumer Preferences

The economic and policy changes have also influenced consumer preferences in Thailand’s automotive market. There is a noticeable shift towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly vehicle options. The success of EV brands like BYD and Neta underscores this trend, as consumers increasingly prioritize sustainability in their purchasing decisions.

Traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, while still dominant, are facing growing competition from EVs. Brands that have been slow to adapt to this shift, such as Mitsubishi and Ford, have seen declines in sales. Mitsubishi’s sales fell by 35.2% to 32,668 units, and Ford’s sales decreased by 16.4%, selling 36,483 units.


In conclusion, the impact of economic and policy changes on vehicle sales in Thailand in 2023 has been profound. High household debt levels, stringent financial regulations, and government incentives for EVs have collectively reshaped the market. Major brands like Toyota and Honda have shown resilience, while new entrants like BYD and Neta are rapidly gaining ground. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for navigating the Thai automotive market, and insights from our expert team at Thailand Automotive Consulting can provide valuable guidance. Should you have any questions or need further analysis, our team is here to assist you.