June 19--State agencies are being urged to buy locally assembled buses to help stimulate the sagging bus industry.
"May bus production stood at only 14 vehicles, a year-on-year drop of 80.3%, due to shrinking demand from the transport sector," said Surapong Paisitpatanapong, a spokesman for the Federation of Thai Industries' automotive industry club.
"We're appealing to government units, particularly the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), to buy locally made products, not only to boost domestic sales but also to convince local makers to put new investment into Thailand."
The BMTA is preparing a procurement programme for 3,183 natural gas buses worth up to 13 billion baht.
Last month the agency sent a letter to the automotive industry club asking for suggestions about the terms of reference for procurement.
Mr Surapong said the club would send a reply by next week suggesting the BMTA purchase locally made buses instead of imports.
Major bus makers such as Hino, Isuzu, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and Scania import chassis for body assembly at their Thai factories.
Local independent factories also import chassis for body assembly here.
Last year, 756 buses were assembled in Thailand, up by 30% from 2012.
Bus output reportedly fell by 29% to 238 in the first five months of this year.
The automotive industry club said vehicle output of all types in May stood at 148,201 units, down 36% from the same year-earlier period.
The first five months saw 792,423 vehicles made, down by 29.5% year-on-year.
Of the five-month production, passenger cars made up 312,748 vehicles, down by 37%, while pickup trucks constituted 471,238 units, down 22%.
Domestic sales in May fell by 38% year-on-year to 69,681 vehicles, with sales over the first five months totalling 367,112 vehicles, down 42%.
Vehicle exports continued to rise, up 9% in May at 94,788 units.
Thailand in the first five months shipped 456,101 vehicles, up 3% from the same period in 2013.
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