Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted March 29, 2012 00:34
Back in business
The 33rd Bangkok International Motor Show recently opened its doors to the public after a tough year for Thailand and its automotive industry in 2011 where massive flooding crippled the country as it affected 65 out of 77 provinces. As the industry moves on towards its road to recovery, major car and motorcycle manufacturers and distributors, and the aftermarket industry supported this year's show to introduce some of their latest technologically advanced offerings to the public to show that the Thai automotive industry is truly back in business.
The traffic jam all the way from the gate of the IMPACT Exhibition Center complex to the busy exhibition hall floor was more than enough evidence of the public's excitement about the Internationally recognized event. Part of this year's excitement is the Thai government's first-car program aimed at making it easier for lower-income car buyers to purchase cars with a sticker price within Bt1-Million. Organizers are expecting about 2,000,000 visitors this year and are forecasting about 45,000 new vehicle bookings at the show. Super-premium brands Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini were present at this year's event. However, several marques were visibly absent from the show floor; Yontrakit group did not to display their Audi, Citroen, Kia and Geely brands.
Noteworthy ASEAN Debuts
Major debuts at this year's show are the Chevrolet Trailblazer, which was unveiled a week ahead in a separate world debut press event. The new Trailblazer is based on the Colorado pickup and will not make it to the US market this time, as it will be targeted to emerging markets against other pickup-based SUVs like the Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and the Toyota Fortuner. The Ford Focus makes its ASEAN debut where it will now be assembled in Ford’s Rayong facility instead of the Philippines where its predecessor was made. Toyota debuted the new Camry which is due for release in the Philippines end of April and previewed the cult revival 86 coupe which will be released later in the year.
BMW uncovered its new F30 3-Series in Sport, Modern and Luxury lines similar to what they did with the 1-Series. The F30 is due to hit the Philipine market within the year. Mercedes-Benz uncovered their recently debuted B-Class and ML-Class, while displaying the Concept A, which gives a glimpse on the upcoming A-Class. Despite being announced that the new AMG C63 will be displayed at the show, it was unfortunately a no-show, with a C-Class Coupe replacing it beside the Ducati Diavel AMG, which is most likely going to have a shortened life as Audi is prepared for a takeover of the Italian motorcycle maker next month. Lamborghini took the cover off the 150-units limited Gallardo LP560-4 Super Trofeo Stadale in Grigio Telesto, it was flanked by the LP-700-4 Aventador and a Gallardo LP560-4 Noctis.
Eco Car debuts
Thailand has an "Eco Car" program that gives special incentives to vehicles with fuel consumption of 20km/liter or less. The Mitsubishi Mirage is third car to fit into the program and will be produced in the Japanese carmaker's Laemchabaeng facility, the new global small car model of Mitsubishi made its debut at last year's Tokyo Motor Show. The new Mirage will make its way to the Philippines later in the year. Suzuki also makes its entry to the segment with a Thailand-made 1.2-liter engine version of its Swift subcompact hatchback. Toyota announced that it would unveil an eco car later in the year, which would most likely be the Etios available for the Indian market.
Motorsports, tuning and the aftermarket
The world of motorsports and tuning cannot be separated with motorsport being the test-bed for vehicle and product development. Like Filipinos, Thais love to accessorize and modify their cars; the car accessories, audio and tuning scene in Thailand is by far the largest in the ASEAN region due to more relaxed regulations on modifications compared to Malaysia and Singapore. Special displays this year were two cars shipped from Japan, the Daishin Nissan Silvia S15, and the Global Auto Cyber GT-R were definitely an attraction to tuning and motorsport fans.
Show organizer GPI, organizes motorsport events like motorcycle, touring car, pickup truck, drift, and the Super Car Thailand race; displayed vehicles from each event to highlight these activities along with their newly revitalized Grand Prix Channel shown on satellite TV.
Lovely smiles amidst the machines
Being known as the "Land of Smiles", the Bangkok International Motor Show would never be complete without the smiles of the lovely ladies that complement the multitude of cars and motorcycles. And yes, they are real ladies and not the ladyboys that you hear or seen in the movie Hangover 2. Go ahead, pick out your favorite one.
Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow, big boss of Grand Prix International, one of the proponents of the event, revealed that he wants to further expand the motor show to include medium and large commercial vehicles as well as put up a Classic Car Show for the upcoming events.