Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted March 28, 2015 10:27
36th Bangkok Motor Show celebrates 'Art of Auto'
The 2015 Bangkok International Motor Show, recently ranked as one of the top 5 motor shows around the world opened on the heels of an improved economic outlook with a more stable political climate. The event also opens as the first major international auto show under the new ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
This year's show theme is called "Art of Auto", which celebrates the art of automobile design. Organizers also aim to support the 7-year automotive industry program of the Thai government by showing efficient and environment friendly vehicles. For 2015, Thai automotive industry is looking to return to the 1,000,000 unit total domestic volume, while exporting 1,200,000 cars. To-date 10 car manufacturers have signified support to join phase 2 of the national "Eco car program," they are: Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Mazda, MG, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen.
Significant production launches at this year's show are the ASEAN debut of the Ford Everest SUV and the world premiere of the updated Ford Ranger pickup, which inherits the front design of the Everest. Suzuki staged the ASEAN debut for the Ciaz sedan, launched in India late last year; it replaces the long-overdue SX4.
Rolls-Royce brought in the limited-run Phantom Drophead Coupe Waterspeed Collection and the new Ghost Series II. Aston Martin came in full force with the Vanquish Carbon Edition taking center stage, it was flanked by the full model lineup from the British luxury carmaker as well as a Vantage V12 Q customized version. Bentley showed off with the Flying Spur W12 and Continental GT V8 S.
Mini highlighted their display with the Clubman concept, as well as a "Siam Package" for the 3-door hatch and Countryman.
Mitsubishi revealed the Delica D:5 "Space Wagon" van its latest entry into the people carrier segment; unfortunately, this model will not make it to the Philippines anytime soon as kitting it into LHD would be too costly for minimal volumes. Mitsubishi has also introduced minor updates like black chrome grill and trunk garnish, and LED DRLs to the Attrage (Mirage G4) to improve its appeal. Isuzu displayed "Limited Edition" accesorized versions of the MU-X, as well as a "Hi-Lander" D-Max but the metallic green foiled D-Max X-series stole the spotlight.
Mazda introduced the 1.3-liter gas engine powered versions of the Mazda and went full-on with their Soul in Motion theme as they flooded their pavilion floor with soul red finished Mazda2 and Mazda3 models. Nissan debuts the single-cab version of the Navara pickup. Chevrolet debuted the Colorado "High Country" edition in hopes to challenge Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak.
Toyota displayed the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle along with the Altis ESport "Nurburgring edition", and the recently revealed Camry, Vellfire and Alphard. The much-awaited next-gen Vigo/Hilux was reportedly pulled back from the show as Toyota is reportedly working on production facility issues.
BMW held a high-tech presentation to highlight its electric vehicles like the i3, i8 and X5 e-drive concept; they also debuted the new 2-Series Active Tourer. Mercedes-Benz revealed the GLE Coupe, new V-Class and Mercedes-AMG GT S.
The Porsche display was highlighted by the 919 hybrid LMP1 racer and the debut of the Cayenne S e-hybrid. Volkswagen displayed the Amarok pickup to possibly gauge customer interest for an upcoming ASEAN introduction and production operations.
This year's show also coincides with the 72nd birthday of Bangkok Motor Show founder and president Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow who was given a surprise presentation on the show floor on VIP Day.
But, the Bangkok International Motor Show will not be complete without the hundreds of pretty presenters on the show floor representing their respective car and motorcycle brands as well as major aftermarket companies.
Organizers expect the show to sell about 40,000 vehicles, a slight uptick from the 38,000 plus figure from last year. Attendees are also forecasted to be within the same figure as it should breach the 1,800,000 mark; including about 1,500,000 paying visitors for the two week duration of the event.
Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow revealed that future expansion plans for the following year include a 20,000 square-meter addition for commercial trucks, race cars, tuner cars and more aftermarket exhibitors. However, the annex exhibition hall would have a limited period of 7 days to scale down cost for participants.