Honda suspends Thai car output as coronavirus emergency declared

BANGKOK, March 26 (Reuters) - Honda's Thai business said it would suspend operations at two factories on Thursday after Thailand declared a state of emergency to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Honda Automobile (Thailand) said in a statement it was suspending operations of its Complete Built-up Vehicle production operation (CBU) in two Thai provinces, from March 27 to April 30, in response to the escalating coronavirus pandemic.

Thailand, which is a regional vehicle production and export base for the world's top automobile manufacturers, has reported a total of 1,045 cases of coronavirus and four deaths since the outbreak started in January.

Honda said it will suspend its CBU production at plants in both Ayutthaya and Prachinburi provinces, allowing staffs to work from home and encourage them to avoid travelling and follow Thai government measures on containing the coronavirus.

It also said that the pandemic is causing a market downturn, adding to pressure on auto sales in Thailand, where domestic sales tumbled for the ninth straight month in February, down 17.1% from a year earlier to 68,271 vehicles, hit by tougher lending by banks and the coronavirus outbreak.

In 2019, car sales contracted 3.3% and the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) has cut its forecast for 2020 domestic sales by 50,000 to 950,000 vehicles. (Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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