Thailand is the second largest source of new vehicles – mainly trucks – to New Zealand and demand for them is set to increase.
Close to 46,000 new vehicles were exported to New Zealand from Thailand last year, and just over 47,000 came from Japan.
A shipping terminal 130km east from Bangkok, Thailand, exports 40,000 new vehicles to New Zealand every year.
Namyong Terminal, located at Laem Chabang Port, ships predominantly pickup trucks, including Toyota, Mitsubishi and Mazda vehicles mainly to the Ports of Auckland and CentrePort Wellington.
Last year about 160,000 new vehicles came into the country, according to the Motor Industry Association, of which 41,168 were from Laem Chabang.
Namyong Terminal, a roll-on roll-off terminal which services cargo liners and automobile manufacturers, has three wharfs each 697m long and a 17m dredged seaway able to accommodate large vessels.
The majority of vehicles imported from Namyong Terminal, and Thailand, are Ford Rangers – New Zealand’s most popular car three years in a row – and Toyota Hiluxes.
Motor Industry Association chief executive David Crawford said most light commercial vehicles and SUVs shipped from Thailand were manufactured there.
“Out of Thailand it’s almost all fully light vehicles, those less than three-and-a-half tonnes – the pickup trucks, SUVs and the odd car,” Crawford said.
“The demand for pickup trucks has picked up significantly and the amount of vehicles coming from Thailand is going to remain high. Given New Zealand’s new vehicle purchasing trends [SUVs and light commercial vehicles], Japan and Thailand will remain the country of origin for new vehicles for some time.”
New Zealand’s new vehicle market was dominated by imports from Japan and Thailand, Crawford said, followed by those from Korea and China.
“Demand for SUVs overtook passenger vehicles about 18 months ago in terms of volumes per year sold, and at the moment light commercial vehicles are at this point in time overtaking passenger vehicles so we’re seeing less and less passenger vehicles sold and more and more SUVs and light commercial vehicles.”
Thailand was the country’s biggest source market for new vehicles in 2016.
Vehicle exports to New Zealand and Australia through Namyong Terminal account for more than 35 per cent of its business.
Namyong Terminal operation manager Weerapong Sripa. Photo / Aimee Shaw
Namyong Terminal operation manager Weerapong Sripa said New Zealand was an important market for the firm, which is listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
“New Zealand and Australia are really important, they are our number one exports [countries] from Thailand. We are really serious about these markets,” Sripa said.
He said the company was cautious to ensure all vehicles were fumigated and uncontaminated before leaving the terminal.
New Zealand new vehicle registrations hit an all-time high in the first month of the year, but were slightly down in February, tallying a total of 11,531.
Registrations for passenger and SUV vehicles were down 8 per cent in February on the same period earlier. However, new registrations for commercial vehicles increased 10 per cent on the same period.
The Toyota Corolla is the only passenger car in the top five vehicles sold in New Zealand, the rest are SUVs or utes.