Published on March 26th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Bangkok International Motor Show – Part 1 of 3
Bangkok is host to not one, but two motor shows every year. These motor shows are not merely to display cars and concepts- they are also designed to build brand strength and sell cars to the general public. The booking counters at each stand are a testament to this, and these events are important to car companies as a means to profit.
But in comparison to Malaysia, Thailand has a very different car market, shaped by the same concepts as Malaysia: high taxes and duties on imported cars. Of course without a national car brand, Thailand encourages manufacturers to produce and assemble locally with the benefit of heavy tax and duty reduction.
Being in the ASEAN region, a lot of the entry level models we see tend to be the same as those found in other countries within the region. Cars like the Ford Ecosport, Toyota Corolla Altis and so on are the staples of the Thai market- but one of the benefits for us is that the motor show provides a preview of what may come in the next few months.
Toyota didn’t have much to offer that we hadn’t already seen yet. The centre-piece of their stand was the Toyota Mirai- their hydrogen powered sedan that is poised to revolutionise emission-free mobility.
Aside from a Nurburgring edition Corolla Altis, the only other model of note was the Yaris- which is seemingly popular in Thailand. We already have this generation of Yaris in our market, although it was introduced under the radar and more on a per-order basis.
The Camry Hybrid was also on display: this model is now locally produced and the first model rolled off the line just a few days ago. It will be interesting to see how it may affect the D-segment of the local car market.
Hyundai also didn’t have many models to display- although what is important to note is the Veloster Turbo. This model is due to arrive in our country within the next few months, with a few images of the car leaked by local dealers in order to build up pre-orders.
Poised to fight in the compact hot-hatchback segment, it will be interesting to see how this model fares against continental contenders. With the standard model already being impressive enough, this performance variant should be more entertaining to drive.
Next stand up is Honda, with a stand dominated by HR-Vs and their other run-of-the-mill cars. The Odyssey also made a show, but what was most pertinent would be the Honda Mobilio. It’s a small MPV based on Honda’s Global Small Platform- the third to join the lineup of the Brio hatchback and Amaze sedan.
While we don’t get the Brio or Amaze, the Mobilio look like an interesting alternative to the less-than-spectacular Freed. It’s compact enough to maneuver easily through tight spaces, but it should have enough interior space for a proper sized family.
Whether this shows up for our market is anybody’s guess, although the lack of Brio or Amaze is an indicator that the Mobilio is less than likely to come to our shores. Honda’s justification is probably tax and duty related: bringing any of these models in would be a difficult task with import duties and taxes pushing the prices way out of reasonable reach for their target market. The competition from national cars would make it simply too difficult to sell.
Well, there’s really not much to say about this Japanese pickup-truck powerhouse. Isuzu’s investment in Thailand is staggering, and the market sales reflect all the effort they’ve put into developing the brand locally. Much like Malaysia, Isuzu in Thailand is limited to a very small selection of models- in fact, just two. The D-Max is sold in a ridiculous number of variants- everything from a low rider, to a full spec luxury model. The only other model to complement the D-Max would be their SUV-variant, the MU-X. It’s a 7-seater model which focuses on creature comforts, much like the relation between the Ranger and the Everest.
Stay tuned for part 2 and part 3 of our Bangkok International Motor Show coverage.