Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted April 24, 2004 08:30
Gateway to the Future
The 25th Bangkok International Motor Show is indeed one for the history books as it is the marked the show's accreditation with the OICA and is now listed in the OICA calendar alongside some of the most prestigious motor shows in the world. Secondly, it is now co-organized by three major players in the Thai automobile industry. They are the Royal Automobile Association of Thailand (RAAT), Thai Automotive Institute (TAI) and Grand Prix International.
Dubbed "The Gateway to the Future", the show not only focused on the concept cars for the future but also emphasized on the goal of Thailand to be the fourth largest automobile producer in the world by 2010 and selling 1,800,000 units per year domestically.
The show organizers expected more than 1.3-million visitors and are also expecting more than 12,700 units in vehicle sales as visitors buy new vehicles at the only motor show in the world that sells vehicles. At the conclusion of the show, 13,000 units were sold with Toyota again topping with 3,000 units. Interestingly, 5 units of the Bht100,000,000 Maybach were sold at the show.
"What makes the Bangkok International Motor Show unique from all other motor shows in the world is that we are the only one that allows manufacturers to sell vehicles at the show. We wanted it this way because it gives consumers a chance to compare from the different vehicle choices they have and also have a look at what's coming up in the near future for them. It has been very successful and we have very good feedback from our exhibitors. In fact, last year there were 10,000 units sold at the show," said Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow, Chariman of Grand Prix International.
Automakers introduced new vehicle models, and displayed their concept vehicles as a glimpse to the future. They also introduced new marketing campaigns and promotions for current models offering interest free special payment schemes and gold jewelry as a premium for cash buyers. Some of the automakers who did their launch were Mercedes Benz, BMW Group, Volvo, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Kia, Land Rover, Alfa Romeo, Volkswagen, and Nissan.
The world premiere of the right-hand-drive (RHD) version of the Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren road car was held at the show. Priced at a hefty Bht70,000,000 (Php101,500,000), the car alone is one of the most expensive cars at the show, second to the Maybach which was the most expensive car at the show with a value of Bht100,000,000 (Php145,000,000). The German Maybach also marks a first as it holds its Southeast Asian premiere at the Bangkok Motor Show. No to be left behind, new Generation-II Mercedes Benz SLK R171 roadster also marks its world premiere at the motor show as the first right-hand drive model with the SLK 200 Kompressor.
Not wanting to be outshined was the new Mercedez Benz Viano, coming from the Spanish town of Victoria. The Viano is a new multi-purpose van which will replace the outgoing V-Class.
BMW Group Thailand brought in their own array of new models as well, with the introduction of the new 6-series which heralds the 645Ci Coupe, which is powered by the 2002 International Engine of the Year winning, 4.4-liter V8 engine equipped with SMG transmission boasting a maximum power output of 333bhp maximum torque of 450Nm.
From the big introductions to the small, the Mini One, the little brother of the Mini Cooper and the Cooper S also held its Thai premiere at the show.
Land Rover introduced the new Freelander Td4 HSE displayed together with its Discovery and Range Rover models. The Freelander also boasts of being the only vehicle in its class to be equipped with a commonrail diesel engine. Bentley came up with their Continental GT, the fastest four-seater coupe in the world capable of being 3-miles away in 60-seconds truly meriting the tagline of Gone in Sixty Seconds.
Mitsubishi's display consisted of 3 vehicle lineups which emphasize the Three-Diamond Badge. The display was headed by the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII and the Mitsubishi Strada Paris Dakar Rally vehicle, and its new fuel-efficient concept cars, the Mitsubishi FCV and the I Concept. Each lineup distinctly follows the new Mitsubishi identity design concept which is crafted around the 3-Diamond Badge conceptualized by MMC Japan's Chief Designer Olivier Boulay.
Mazda's Zoom-Zoom concept Kusabi led its display along with the RX-8, Miata, Protege, MPV and Tribute.
Chevrolet debuted the new Colorado pick-up truck with the same platform as the Isuzu D-Max which was a joint project between the two companies.
Honda displayed its newest and future technologies to honor Thailand 's first internationally-accredited motor show, highlighted by the display of its 300-horsepower V6 engine powered HSC or Honda Sports Concept which is the latest inheritor of the Honda sports DNA. The FCX, the world's first commercial, compact 4-seater fuel cell vehicle was also displayed by Honda to show the new technology of fuel cell vehicles soon to roll out in many cities in different countries.
The new Honda Stream also held its public introduction at the Honda Pavilion, boasting of compliance with the new EURO4 emission standards to be introduced in Europe next year. Also on display was the CR-V Prestige, a luxury variant of the CR-V, the Jazz, Civic and City.
The world's second largest automaker, Toyota did not want to be outdone displayed two concept vehicles, the CS&S and PM in their "One for Everyone" concept 1,760 square-meter pavilion. The PM or Personal Mobility concept is a "wearable" single-person vehicle driver-vehicle unity and offers advanced vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The CS&S is Toyota's sports car for the future equipped with a midship-mounted Hybrid System THS II, which combines a 1.5-liter gasoline engine and a 60hp high-output motor and electric 4WD system.
It also introduced to two vehicle models at the show, the new Vios Turbo, which will only be limited to 600 units, and the new Avanza 5-door compact vehicle innovation, which is a first in Thailand. Toyota also displayed its whole vehicle line at the show which include the Wish , Camry, Corolla Altis, Soluna Vios, Sport Rider, Sport Cruiser, and the Hilux Tiger D4-D.
Lexus displayed the LF-S concept car introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, as well as its current vehicle line which include the ES300, LS430, and RX300.
The auto service, auto parts, and aftermarket industry was also present at the show with companies like Denso, Bridgestone, Kosei, Max Liner, Alpine, are just some of the bigger companies on display. More than 100 booths with different car accessories, detailing products, window films, lighting products, performance parts and batteries flooded the halls of the air-conditioned tents.
There were several support activities at the show which include car club meets featuring Mercedes Benz Classic Car Club, Volkswagen Club, BMW Club, Ferrari Club, Porsche Club and many others. A bike show featuring classic bikes and modern bikes is also held for two-wheel enthusiasts. In addition to these, the show also featured the Bangkok Auto Salon, Off-Road driving exhibition, Car Audio Show, Model Car Show and R/C car and airplane contests.
The Motor Show was not just about cars, it also featured a Miss Motor Show beauty contest which serves as a stepping stone for beautiful and talented young ladies for their future in the Thai entertainment industry. A criterion for the Miss Motor Show contest is on the knowledge and ability to publicize the show. In addition, there is also a Miss Presenter contest to give company presenters a chance to shine with their personality and product knowledge.