Despite political unrest and protests in recent months at Thailand's capital city, the 2014 Bangkok International Motor Show manages to go full throttle with the major global automotive brands expressing their support for the 35th edition of the show that helped make Thailand the 'Detroit of Asia'. True enough, premium European marques like Aston Martin, Bentley, Porsche, and Rolls-Royce have increased their presence this year.
While there were no global debuts at this year's event, it did host several ASEAN reveals from major manufacturers. For the European brands, iconic British marque MG (Morris Garage, now owned by China’s SAIC) made the most significant announcement with an investment by local distributor CP Group which will build an assembly plant to produce the new MG6.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the new GLA-Class, G-Class and C-Class with much fanfare. BMW debuted the 220i M Sport; a Thai-specific model which conforms to the country’s vehicle taxation scheme that favors lower displacement vehicles; they also displayed the i8 plug-in hybrid. Aston Martin displayed the recently debuted Q bespoke services in the form of a V12 Vantage S. Rolls-Royce displayed a limited-to-35 Ghost 'Majestic Horse Edition’, which celebrates the lunar year of the horse and an extended wheelbase Phantom. Porsche debuted its baby Cayenne - the new Macan Turbo and displayed the just-recalled 911 GT3 at front center of its pavilion. Bentley headlines their display with the new Flying Spur and Continental GT Speed. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles displayed the new Multivan; while their passenger car lineup was visibly absent this year.
For the American brands, Ford made the biggest announcement to build the 2015 Everest in Thailand; a model expected to make its world debut at next year’s show. Chevrolet’s Adra concept was a no-show despite the world’s second largest automaker’s announcement that it will be displayed at the show. A display of Chevy Camaro ZL1’s in different colors were found at vehicle importer Wiz’ stand.
For the Japanese automakers, the new 2014 Subaru WRX makes its ASEAN debut. Suzuki held the ASEAN debut of the recently revealed Celerio micro hatchback and displayed an interesting mobile ramen shop concept with their APV. Toyota brought in the FV2 personal mobility concept debuted in Tokyo last year, and displayed TRD and a race prepared version of the new Corolla Altis as part of their motor sport program.
Nissan made the most significant presence as it expands its GT Academy program to Thailand adding the ASEAN region to its driver development program based on the Gran Turismo simulator on Sony’s Playstation 3. The Nissan Livina X-Gear also made its public debut alongside the updated Juke compact crossover. Mitsubishi displayed the Outlander PHEV Asia Cross Country Rally vehicle. Isuzu displayed different styling concepts for their D-Max pickup and MU-X SUV.
Leading the Korean front was Hyundai which displayed the i40 wagon to test market reaction. Vehicles imported from Korea do not enjoy tax incentives as locally produced models. Visibly absent this year are the Chinese brands which decided to skip the show likely due to budget constraints.
The show did not only go on but has expanded as well with the addition of an annex tent to hold more accessories companies to show their latest offerings. Motor show organizing committee chairman Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow believes that his show will steer the declining demand for cars in Thailand to the positive territory with a 12% increase. This year’s event expects to attract about 1.7-million visitors and generate at least 40,000 new car bookings supported by promotional activities and financing incentives.
Dr. Prachin also shared that they are planning to expand next year’s show with the addition of a motor sport display and tuner car competition in the adjacent exhibit halls. With an expected improvement of the political environment and new model introductions, the 2015 Bangkok International Motor Show is expected to increase its size, attract more visitors and generate more sales.
Last but not least, the Bangkok International Motor Show would not be complete without the lovely faces that present the cars to more than one million visitors of each show. Wonders of nature or miracles of science, you be the judge. Browse through the photo gallery for more photos of cars and the lovely presenters.