Thailand replaces Japan as Australia’s biggest car importer

July’s new-car sales made history as Thailand replaces Japan as Australia’s biggest source of imports.

Honda HR-V
Gallery4

JULY was a multicultural month in new-car buyer land. It was the first time ever that cars imported from Thailand outnumbered those imported from Australia’s previous long-standing port of choice: Japan. 

Thailand is a cheap place for carmakers to build vehicles. And places that have a free trade agreement with the kingdom – such as Australia – can have vehicles delivered without having to pay tariffs. 

Toyota HiLux
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Thai-built vehicles are big business in Australia. To the end of July, we’ve brought in almost 170,000 vehicles that have been made there – or the equivalent of one in four sales. 

Most of them are trade utes. Worksite load luggers such as the Toyota HiLux – one of Australia’s best-selling vehicles – the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Holden Colorado, Nissan Navara and Isuzu D-Max all come from there. 

Ford Focus
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Thailand also does big trade in passenger cars.  Names you’ll recognise include the Mazda 2 city car and CX-3 compact SUV, the Honda HR-V compact SUV, CR-X small SUV and the Jazz hatch – and its booted equivalent, the City – all have their origins there. 

The Toyota Corolla small sedan – alongside the Japan-built hatch, it is Australia’s reigning best-selling car – is Thai-built, as are the similarly sized Ford Focus and the Nissan Pulsar that will soon sell as a sedan only after the carmaker earlier this year shook up its showroom, killing off several models. 

Toyota Corolla
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We can go on, with the Ford Fiesta, Honda Accord, Civic and City sedans, the Suzuki Celerio, and the Nissan Altima. 

Larger seven-seat SUVs, which often share the trade ute platform built in Thailand, also share their origins. That includes the Ford Everest, Holden Colorado 7, Isuzu MU-X, the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and the Toyota Fortuner.

 

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Barry Park
Journalist

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