Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted April 01, 2006 18:58
Bio Energy, Reality Power
The success of the Bangkok International Motor Show has truly made its mark not only in the ASEAN region but the International automotive industry as well. It has in fact a lot to celebrate this year as it has been included in the 2006 calendar of Auto Shows for 2006 of the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers or otherwise known as the OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles) comprised of 42 member nations. This year also celebrates the 60th anniversary of H.M. King Bhumibol ascension to the throne, and Thailand's achievement of producing one million vehicles in 2005.
The theme for this year's event is "Bio Energy, Reality Power". Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow, chairman of the organizing committee, says that Thailand is facing an energy crisis and there is a need to find an alternative energy source for the future of the country.
This reflects the effort of the automobile industry, well-known for its huge oil consumption and pollution to the environment, to search for alternative energy that is less costly and harmful to the environment," said Mr. Jaturont Komolmis, vice-chairman of the organizing committee. "That's why automobile companies have developed power trains that are compatible with alternative energy which produce lower pollutants than gasoline or diesel fuel," Jaturont added.
The Bangkok Motor Show is a venue for launching concept cars for some of the leading car manufacturers. Japanese manufacturers Honda, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota led the way in showing the public the latest in vehicle technology.
Honda displayed the FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle) and the Civic Modulo Concept, Lexus displayed its 500-horsepower LF-A sports car concept, Mitsubishi showed the Lancer Evolution MIEV electric vehicle, Nissan with the Sports Concept which the upcoming Tiida is based on, and last but not least, Toyota showed the public their Fine T in wheel electric vehicle and the funky single-seat I-Swing.
Audi highlighted its display with the Q7 crossover SUV which it plans to sell in Thailand, which also might come to our shores as well. The displayed unit comes with a 4.2-liter 350hp engine with 440Nm of peak torque.
BMW highlighted its display with the facelifted Z4 roadster as well as the limited edition, hand-built 550i Individual. On display as well were the 650i and 750i, which featured the new 4.8-liter V-8 powerplant variants which were recently launched in Geneva.
Bentley highlighted its display with the Continental GT, the world's fastest four-seater sports car which tops out at 318km/h. It was flanked by the Continental Flying Spur and Arnage.
Chevrolet debuted the new 1.4-liter Aveo sub-compact sedan, which will compete against the Honda City and Toyota Vios in the segment. The 1.4-liter engine produces a maximum power of 94hp and 130Nm of torque.
The French carmakers were represented by Citroen (C4 hatchback and sedan), and Peugeot who came with the new 3-liter V6 powered 407 Coupe featuring a nine-level electronic suspension.
Ford launched its new Ranger pick-up truck to win back lost market share taken by Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hi-lux. The Ranger equipped with the new Ford Duratorq CRDi Turbo engine (which it shares with the Mazda BT-50) will hit Philippine shores very soon. The Ford Territory, a 7-seater crossover based on the Australian Ford Falcon was also introduced for the Thai market and will not be seeing Philippine shores as it is strictly RHD. Ford also put on the display the Ford Focus ST which is equipped with a turbocharge 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine.
The Honda displays gives a preview on what's coming to the Philippine market, the new Honda Civic along with a Modulo concept variant based on the 1.8-liter Civic featuring advanced technological features, the facelifted Accord was introduced at the show and the facelifted Jazz was also on display with a new bright yellow paint scheme.
Jaguar highlights its display with the new astonishing (pun intended) XK four-seater sports coupe powered by a 4.2-liter V8 capable of 300 horsepower mated to a six speed automatic gearbox.
Land Rover came up with the limited Rimmi Red color variant for the Range Rover Sport. On the other hand, the regular variant Range Rover Sport were not quite selling so well, as the big windshield stickers said so.
Lexus, luxury arm of Toyota unveiled the new IS250 which aims to give the BMW 3-series, Mercedes Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Volvo S60 a run for its money. The IS250 is equipped with a 2.5-liter V6 Direct-inject Stoichiometric D-4 Engine. It also displayed the R400h, the world's first luxurious hybrid car.
Mazda debuted its new one-ton pickup truck, BT-50 which shares the same platform as the Ford Ranger. It will take some time before the BT-50 reaches our shores due to some legal impediments.
Mercedes Benz made the world debut for its V6 CRDi powered R-Class right-hand-drive version. The facelifted ML350 with new engine and 7G-TRONIC automatic 7-speed transmission recently unveiled in Detriot as well as the facelifted SL class was also also introduced to the Thai market.
The MINI stand was highlighted with the 210-horsepower pocket rocket John Cooper Works (JCW) variant along with the MINI Seven, Park Lane and Checkmate.
The Mitsubishi stand was filled with different variants of the Triton pick-up truck, with the Triton Racing Evolution as its highlight. The Triton will make its way to the Philippine market soon, to join the pick-up truck frenzy. It also featured facelifted versions of the Space Wagon (Grandis) and the Lancer.
The Subaru display was a preview of what our local distributor will come up with, the Legacy, Forester and Impreza. But they also get the Impreza STI 2.5 in their market.
Aside from the concept vehicles, the Yaris was also an interesting sight in the Toyota pavillion, it gives a hint of its re-entry to the local market to go against the Honda Jazz and Suzuki Swift.
Volvo displayed its new C70 Coupe and launched the V70 D5 powered by a CRDi engine, Volkswagen launched the new Caravelle Prestige which seats 11 people.
The Bangkok Motor Show is the only OICA recognized motorshow to offer car sales, as the event has been doing so for more than 25 years already and has proven as a successful formula for the Thai market. The event is the top ranking motor show for the ASEAN region and ranks second to Japan in of Asia. Part of the success of the event is attributed to Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow's close cooperation with the Thai automotive industry for more than thirty years since he started Grand Prix magazine, the first auto magazine in Thailand. The overwhelming support of the industry members and the public make up for the most part of the success of the show which will be moving to IMPACT Center in 2008, as the show outgrows its current venue.
Last year's show was able to gather 1,693,200 visitors, this year show organizers expect to attract approximately 1.6 million visitors, which may of course be decreased by 10-percent brought about by the current political crisis in the country. A total of 32 automobile brands have been represented in this year's show, presenting their concept cars, latest offerings, and world debuts for some companies. And last but not the least of course, one of the popular attractions of the show has to be the beautiful women of Thailand which is highlighted by the Miss Motor Show Competition.