FILE PHOTO: Models pose beside a Nissan Kicks E-Power electric vehicle car at the Thailand International Motor Expo 2021 in Bangkok on Dec 2, 2021. (AFP photo)

Domestic car sales fell 17.2% in December from a year earlier and dropped 4.2% in the whole of 2021, due to coronavirus outbreaks and a shortage of microchips, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said on Monday.

Car sales totalled 86,145 units in December and 759,119 vehicles in all 2021, slightly above target, the FTI said.

In 2022, the FTI still forecasts car sales at 800,000 to 850,000 vehicles, or a rise of 5.4% to 12%, supported by easing of travel curbs and economic recovery, Surapong Paisitpattanapong, a spokesperson for FTI’s automotive industry division, told a briefing.

Thailand is a regional vehicle production and export base for the world’s top carmakers, including Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi.

The industry accounts for about 10% of gross domestic product and manufacturing jobs.

Car exports, however, jumped about 48% in December from a year earlier and rose 30.4% in the whole of 2021, the FTI said. It predicts car exports to rise by 4.3% to 1 million vehicles in 2022.