Tri Petch Isuzu Sales Co. Ltd. goes on record as the first local manufacturer to forecast industry sales in Thailand will exceed 500,000 vehicles this year.

Tri Petch President Goro Shintani makes that prediction after industry sales soared 50.3% to 77,491 units in January-February. Tri Petch is a joint venture between Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Last year, the Thai market posted its best results since 1997 when sales jumped 37.9% to 409,362 units.

In January, Toyota Thailand Co. Ltd. predicted national sales this year would rise 15% to 470,000 units.

Shintani says sales are being spurred by strong pickup demand and the compact sedan rivalry between Toyota and Honda Motor Co. Ltd., which drove sales in that segment up 81.6% to 28,667 units in the first two months.

"I expect March to be a strong month too," Shintani is quoted as saying.