The 100th year of Mercedes Benz and "green cars" for the future was the theme of this year's Bangkok International Motor Show which was recently held at the Bangkok International Trade Exhibit Center (BITEC). Guests are welcomed to the trade hall with a special display of some of the crown prince's collections - fine automobiles.

Dubbed "The Power of Natural ", the show focused on alternative fuels, energy conservation and earth friendly concept vehicles for the future. The alarming increase in fuel prices was also one of the reasons for the theme of the show. The show also re-emphasized on the goal of Thailand as the "Detroit of Asia".

"Visitors will be impressed with the scale of this year's Motor Show because one of our objectives is to support the Thai automotive industry and inform the world about the capability of the Thai people to stage a world class event like this. This will create confidence in auto makers and suppliers to make more investments in Thailand," said Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow, Chairman of Bangkok Motor Show Organizing Committee.

With last year's attendance amounting to 1,660,000 visitors, this year's show hopes to attract more people to see the 31 automotive brands on display. Grand Prix International, the organizer of the Bangkok International Motor Show has spent Bt1 billion for this year's event. The event also highlights the need to explore alternative fuels and green vehicles and sends out a message to all concerned parties to reduce our dependence on petroleum.

Several carmakers displayed their latest vehicle models and technology. These include, DaimlerChrysler, BMW Group, Volvo, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Kia, Land Rover, Alfa Romeo, Volkswagen, Honda, Lamborghini and Nissan.

DaimlerChysler launched the world's first right-hand-drive version of the Mercedes Benz CLS-class with the CLS55 AMG and CLS350 on display. Other highlight models include the new A-Class, E220 CDI, and the SLK55 AMG. DC also introduced its clean fuel cars in the form of the E200 NGT (Natural Gas Technology) the Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD variant.

A special display featured "The Shining Silver Star" exhibition where six Mercedes-Benz classic cars from the Stuttgart-based Mercedes-Benz Museum were displayed. The illustrious display is led by the "Benz Patent Motor Car", the world's first motorcar produced by Mr. Karl-Benz Mercedes himself, and "Simplex", Thailand's first Mercedes-Benz car that was first brought it during the era of King Chulalongkorn. Mrs. Jutta Benz, a very special guest from the latest generation of the Benz family has also taken the opportunity to grace the event.

BMW Group Thailand debuted the new 3-series which will be hitting the road here in the Philippines as well this month, with the 320i and 330i on display. The reworked 7-series was also on display featuring enhancements to the front and rear design. Just beside, its sister marque MINI, highlighted the new MINI Cabriolet.

Swedish carmaker Volvo highlighted its new diesel engine powered S80 D5, which features their first in-produced commonrail diesel powerplant, and also displayed is a bi-fuel V70 in line with the show's theme.

Japanese carmaker Honda highlighted their pavilion with their Formula One racecar and also showcased the engine to show their advanced technology developement in race engine development.

The Lamborghini pavilion had the most interesting display as they put up the recently debuted Murciélago Roadster on the wall. Also on display were a yellow Gallardo and a black Murciélago. Interestingly as well were the fact that two members of Lamborghini Bangkok's management team (Mr. Ronnie Mercado - General Manager, and Mr. Sigfried Soria - Aftersales Manager) were Filipinos.

Chevrolet introduced the new Optra Wagon, featuring a new front grille, which might make its way to our shores as well. And the Corsa Flexpower which has the ability to alternate between both gasoline and sugar cane-based ethanol fuel to power the engine, deliver the same performance and efficiency. The Corsa Flexpower is currently sold commercially by GM Brazil.

Nissan's Redigo Concept, which is an open-roof car loaded with an array of newly conceived gadgets and ideas is also one of the highlights of the show. Aside from advanced IT technologies and entertainment features, the Redigo is also equipped with Nissan's compact e-4WD system for maximum versatility.

Toyota proudly highlighted their display with two concept cars; the Fine-N concept which features fuel cell technology and the leaf-inspired i-unit. The body of the i-unit is made from plant-based, environment friendly materials such as kenaf. Its a window to what future transportation will be in the form of personal transportation units featuring numerous advanced technologies for energy conservation and accident prevention.

Premium marque Lexus hopes to make it big in the Thai market as they launched the GS300 which is powered by a 3-liter V6 24-valve engine producing 228hp. The GS300 slots right in between the ES300 and the LS430 models.

Mitsubishi displayed the 2005 Lancer Evolution Rally Car and its Racing Truck Evolution Paris Dakar challenger which is based on the Pajero Evolution concept they displayed in last year's show. It also took the opportunity to introduce the latest iteration of the Lancer Evolution franchise in the form of the Lancer Evolution IX which was recently launched in Japan. Powering the Evo IX is a new generation 4G63 engine equipped with MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control System), a bigger turbine and drivetrain improvements.

Ford upped the ante this year as they bring in the 2005 Mustang GT, a resurrection of their iconic muscle car. And the all new Ford Focus family with 3, 4 and 5-door variants at the show. The Focus has been set in to replace the aged Ford Laser (Lynx in our country). To highlight the Focus further was the 5-door concept variant of the 2006 Ford Team RS WRC car for the upcoming season.

Other new carmaker offerings were the multi-awarded Audi A6, Citroen C3 Pluriel, Isuzu MU07, Land Rover Discovery 3, Jaguar S-type, and the Skoda Octavia. The auto service, auto parts, and aftermarket industry which totaled to more than 130 booths. Other support events included car club show/meets, Classic Bikes Show, Bangkok Auto Salon, Off Road Training, Overnight Rally, Radio Control Cars/Airplanes Show, Car Audio Contest and Children's Painting Show. The show is the largest of its kind in the ASEAN region, and is truly a world class event and the organizer promises to bring it to greater heights next year.