Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted April 07, 2003 10:00
The Detroit of Asia
The Detroit of Asia hosted the biggest gathering of the automotive industry in Southeast Asia as it holds the 24th Bangkok International Motor Show at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center (BITEC) covering over 71,500 square-meters running from March 28 to April 6. The second biggest show in Asia next to the Tokyo Motor Show, the Bangkok Motor Show has millions of visitors in its years of successful shows. This year, organizers are optimistic despite the ongoing war and virus outbreak, they are expecting about 1.6-million visitors by the end of the show. An estimated Bt10-million is also expected to be made at the show by more than 20 automakers, five motorcycles companies and over-100 car parts and accessories companies.
Automakers launched new models and intensified their marketing campaigns for current models offering special payment schemes and gold necklaces as a premium. Making their vehicle launches were Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Citroen, Ford, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Saab, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.
Alfa Romeo unveiled its 147 GTA sportscar, Audi launches its new A8L Quattro, BMW debuts its V12 powered 760Li, 530i and the Z4 roadster, Chevrolet unleashes its Optra designed by Pininfarina, Ford unveils its 7-seater SUV-- the Everest, Honda premieres its new Accord, Lexus launches its RX300 SUV and showcases the LS430 luxury sedan with an audio system by Mark Levinson, Mazda rotates heads with its rotary engine RX-8 sportscar and its new Le Mans Fighter pickup, Mercedes Benz launches five new models which include the CLK200 Kompressor Cabriolet, SL350, E55 AMG, ML320, Mitsubishi launched its 2800 Turbo Intercooled Strada, Nissan releases its 350Z sportscar icon, Toyota revealed its new Wish MPV, and Volvo raised the roof with its XC90.
Aside from current and new production models, manufacturers also showcased concept vehicles following the "Smart Tech, Smart Life" slogan of the show featuring vehicles made with the technology of the future. Toyota displayed their RSC--Rugged Sports Coupe, while Mitsubishi came with their CZ-3 Tarmac concept car and also displayed the new Pajero 2+2 similar to the Dakar winning vehicle, and the new Colt Sport.
Aside from the new cars and the concept vehicles, a massive lineup of vehicles were displayed by their repective companies on the exhibit halls. Sales promotions which included premium items, low downpayment, low interest and even zero interest pay schemes were hatched by the dealers to entice the most demanding buyer.
Brands at the show were Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Citroen, Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Isuzu, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, London Car, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Mini, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Saab, Thairung, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo and many more.
The Bangkok Motor Show is truly a venue to go to if you're looking to buy a car and want to compare with other models and brands. Just by observing the first two days of the show, I could see several transactions being made by showgoers who went home as proud owners of new vehicles.
Interestingly, London Car will soon be producing their 'London Cabs' in Thailand to be distributed to Southeast Asian countries which utilize right-hand drive vehicles. Mercedes Benz also displayed its commercial vehicle line which included vans used as mobile paramedic units fully equipped with emergency equipment. Toyota also displayed its Formula One replica car.
Right beside the main exhibition hall were the two tents constructed by the organizers to alleviate the space problem which housed the display for the automotive aftermarket and OE parts display. The total area covered more than 10,000 square-meters, more than double of last year's 4,000 square-meters. "We've spent as much as Bt100-million for this alone, which helps solve the space problem considerably," says Jaturon Komolmis, vice chairman of the organizing committee.
There are several other activities which go with the Bangkok Motor Show such as car club meets, a bike show featuring classic bikes and Harley Davidson bikes is also held for two-wheel enthusiasts. In addition to these, there are also Off-Road driving contests, Car Audio contests and R/C car and airplane contests. The Motor Show is not just about cars, it also features a Miss Motor Show beauty contest which serves as a stepping stone for beautiful and talented young ladies for their future in Thai entertainment.