Amid continuing political chaos, new-vehicle sales in Thailand plunged 44.8% year-on-year in February to 71,680 units, dragging the 2-month total down 45.2% to 140,188.

Toyota Thailand, which collates sales data for the local industry, says in a statement car deliveries tumbled 54.2% to 29,066 units and commercial vehicles fell 35.9% to 42,614, including the 1-ton pickup segment off 35.6% to 35,142.

Senior Vice President Wutthikorn Suriyachantanano says part of the plunge came against big volumes in 2013, when sales were thriving under the government’s first-car-buyer tax-break program.

But he says the February drop also reflected a slowdown in consumption and investment.

In the most recent blow to stability, the Constitution Court annulled the Feb. 2 general election, easily won by the government, because there was no vote in 28 constituencies in the restive South. It ordered a new general election, ruling the last vote violated the constitution because it was not held on the same day nationwide.

In the first two months of the year, Thai car sales slumped 55.0% from like-2013 to 55,572 units and the CV segment was off 36.0% to 84,716.

Wutthikorn says the industry is looking to this month to revive the market with the delivery of new models launched since the beginning of the year and the Bangkok International Motor Show running March 26 to April 6.

“This will be an important catalyst in the growth of the car market,” he says. “However, the political situation remains the psychological impact on consumer spending. That could affect the car market.”

The motor show, considered the official start to the auto-buying season, has attracted 29 automakers this year.

Show organizer Prachin Eamlumnow, chairman of Grand Prix Group, tells The Nation newspaper he believes the show significantly will help spur auto sales.

“We cannot deny the fact that the current political situation has affected the economy in general and consequently the automobile market,” he says. “However, there is a positive sign for an upward market trend, plus a large number of new car models have been launched since the beginning of the 2014.”

Toyota retained its grip on the Thai market, despite February sales diving 26.2% year-over-year to 27,323 units. Isuzu fell 35.6% to 13,416, followed by Honda, retreating 70.2% to 7,469.

In the car segment Toyota dropped 15.0% to 13,274 units for a 45.7% market share. Honda plunged 70.8% to 6,220 and Nissan backslid 73.8% to 2,338.

The CV market saw Toyota down 34.4% to 14,049 units, Isuzu off 35.6% to 13,416 and Mitsubishi falling 45.9% to 3,405.

Within that, the important 1-ton truck segment had Toyota slipping 32.0% to 13,437 units, Isuzu decreasing 32.8% to 12,502 and Mitsubishi tumbling 45.9% to 3,405.

After two months, Toyota had 38.2% of the Thai market with sales down 31.1% to 53,542 units. Isuzu followed, off 35.4% to 26,299, ahead of Honda, contracting 69.5% to 13,250.

Car sales through February saw Toyota dropping 27.3% to 24,768 units, Honda plunging 70.6% to 10,802, and Nissan falling 67.7% to 5,543.

Toyota also dominated the CV market after two months despite deliveries skidding 34.1% to 28,774 units. Isuzu followed, declining 35.4% to 26,299, ahead of Mitsubishi, sinking 53.0% to 6,394.

In the 1-ton truck segment, Toyota claimed the sales lead despite a 32.8% decrease to 27,175 units, ahead of Isuzu, down 33.1% to 24,470 and Mitsubishi, contracting 53.0% to 6,394.

Ford led the non-Japanese contingent in volume, with February sales slipping 30.7% to 3,114 units, ahead of Chevrolet, which dropped 64.5% to 2,059. Ford says the new Ranger pickup accounted for two-thirds of transactions with 2,084.

Year-to-date, Ford deliveries shrank 39.1% year-on-year to 6,175 units and Chevy sank 62.5% to 4,443.

On the production front, automakers recorded 24.3% fewer builds year-on-year in February as they completed filling orders for vehicles sold under the first-time-buyer program.

Federation of Thai Industries automotive industry club spokesman Surapong Paisitpatanapong tells the Bangkok Post Thailand produced 173,506 vehicles in the month, up 6.7% from January.

Surapong says exports in February rose 19.9% from January to 97,000 units, mainly to the U.K., Australia and the Middle East and South and Central America.

The club is confident Thailand will reach its target of exporting 1.2 million units this year, he says.