Toyota Motor Corp. is considering delaying its 4.6 billion baht ($129.5 million) eco-car project in Thailand but says it will definitely go through with a plan to build Camry Hybrids there.

“’We are reviewing capacity expansion plans and have to set the priority for these projects’ implementation,” Toyota Motor Thailand Co. Ltd. Vice Chairman Ninnart Chirathirapinyo tells the Bangkok Post.

“Some projects may be suspended, depending on the situation, including eco-car production,” he says. “The (Camry) hybrid would not be delayed, as the model is a response to the current market demand from consumers who prefer fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Toyota says a review of its investment plan in Thailand is a result of the global market slump. The Japanese auto maker was planning to build 100,000 small, fuel-efficient, so-called eco-cars annually, with half targeted for export.

Toyota Thailand recently said it is cutting current vehicle production 20%-25%, or 40,000 units, between December and next April, as it reduces 2009 output to 400,000 vehicles from the planned 500,000.

Ninnart says Toyota expects the global market to fall to 69 million units in 2009, from a forecast of 72 million this year. He also says Thailand’s vehicle exports next year may plunge 30% from a projected 770,000 units this year, including 300,000 Toyota products.

Meantime, Thai auto parts maker Aapico Hitech Plc tells the newspaper up to 30% of its 4,000 staff may have to be laid off next year if the global recession leads to a sharp reduction in its revenue. CEO Yeap Swe Chuan says more than 90% of its products are supplied to Thai vehicle assemblers that currently are cutting output.

‘’We are now projecting that sales next year could be 25%-30% lower than this year,” he says. “If the market falls that much, we might have to cut the number of staff by the same level, starting from subcontracting workers.’’

Aapico Hitech presently is laying off non-production senior permanent staff, and Yeap has cut his salary by 30%.

Elsewhere, Thailand’s largest automotive battery maker, Thai Storage Battery Plc, says sales of its 3K brand batteries have fallen 15%-20% since the second quarter. Exports, accounting for 60% of its sales, are down 20%.

Managing Director Veerawat Korphaibool reports a third-quarter net loss of 68.4 million baht ($1.9 million). Through the first nine months, losses totaled TB183.35 million ($5.1 million), compared with year-ago’s net profit of TB172.94 million ($4.85 million).