Thailand is one of the countries that set the standard of motor shows in the new normal. For the second year in a row, they managed to pull off the Bangkok International Motor Show. What makes this year's running an impressive feat is that attendance is higher than last year.

For reference, the 2020 Bangkok International Motor Show was able to attract 1.049 million visitors and 18,000 vehicle reservations. This year, 1.34 million attendees flocked to the show – which equates to a 28.6% increase over last year's attendance. Meanwhile, combined vehicle and motorcycle bookings were at 27,868, a massive 51.5% jump over last year's figures.

Was the exhibition successful? You bet it was. Here are some highlights from the show.

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New and updated models revealed

With Thailand serving as the automotive hub of Southeast Asia, many new and updated models made their regional debut (or appearance) at this year's Bangkok Motor Show. Some of the headline debuts include the Ford FX4 Max, Isuzu mu-X, MG Extender, Nissan Navara Pro-4X, Peugeot 2008, and Subaru Outback.

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Several luxury cars made their ASEAN debuts during the show, too. These include the Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition, Audi RS e-Tron GT Quattro, BMW M4 Competition, Lexus UX 300e EV, Maserati MC20, Mercedes-Benz E-class, Rolls-Royce Ghost, and Volvo XC40 Recharge EV.

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BIMS 2021 also let showgoers get a closer look at some of the hottest and popular models in different segments. On display was the redesigned Isuzu D-Max, the more powerful Toyota Hilux, the hatchback and sedan versions of the Honda City, the all-new Kia Carnival, and more. Not only that, visitors booked reservations to avail of show-exclusive deals.

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With these models now in Thailand, it will be only a matter of time before we eventually get our hands on them. Some of the cars shown there will arrive later this year. Given the current situation the country is facing right now, we're hoping the wait won't be too long.

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Massive bookings and reservations.

But a motor show isn't just about new car launches and showcases. There are solid deals available, and you can only get them in events like these. BIMS 2021 is no different.

There were special interest rates as low as 0.99% and installment payments up to 48 months available. Some even offer extended warranties and free 100,000 km checkups. Automakers were busy enticing attendees to make a reservation for a brand new car. Because of these deals, manufacturers received a load of bookings in less than two weeks.

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Out of the 27,868 bookings from motorcycles and automobiles, Toyota came out on top with 4,406 bookings. Mazda came in at second with 3,454 reservations. Meanwhile, Honda sits at third with 3,305 bookings. In fourth was Isuzu, attracting 2,829 customer reservations.

Coming in at fifth was Suzuki with a tally of 2,689 bookings. In sixth place is Mercedes-Benz with 1,863 reservations. That makes the German automaker the only luxury brand to exceed 1,000 reservations. MG also had a good number of awaiting customers after reserving 1,629 units. Rounding up the top ten sellers during the motor show were Mitsubishi (1,462), Ford (1,212), and Nissan (1,144).

If there's any proof that motor shows are some of the best places to get a good deal, BIMS 2021 is it. A booking increase of 51.5% over last year's reservations says it all.

Safety first

The show also owes its success to the implementation of strict health and safety protocols. Like last year's show, everyone must wear a face mask and submit to a temperature check before entering the venue. Meanwhile, constant disinfection was the norm during the show. Those that wished to check out a vehicle must sanitize their hands before entering any car.

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The gangways between the main walkway and each booth are wider to maintain physical distancing. There were also marshals going around that remind visitors to keep their distance from one another. Exhibitors, meanwhile, were instructed to wear a face shield on top of a mask when interacting with visitors.

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For those who say the pandemic spells the end of motor shows, BIMS 2021 points to the contrary. Not a lot will stop people from attending a physical motor show. If more countries plan to hold auto shows, a strict set of safety measures must be in place to reassure visitors that it is safe to visit events like this.

Will PH still have a motor show?

With Thailand successfully holding the 42nd Bangkok International Motor Show, what does this mean for the Philippines? Will we still be able to have motor shows just like before? With the current situation, it seems unlikely. We don't want to sound pessimistic here, but cases are on the rise. Holding events like motor shows is downright reckless and dangerous.

For now, it looks like we'll still have to resort to online car launches and virtual motor shows. But should the country be able to control the spread of the virus, along with the ease of quarantine protocols, organizers could be able to host motor shows once more soon.

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Once the situation becomes better, we will be curious how the first-ever post-pandemic motor show will go. What type of safety and health protocols can we expect? What will be the requirements needed by visitors and exhibitors? And will visitors need to have proof of vaccination before attending the show?

For now, all we can do is wait, keep safe, and follow health and safety protocols. Yes, it's been too long since we had a motor show in the country. But with the way things are going, it might take years before we can head to the World Trade Center (or SMX Convention Center) and open the doors of the newest cars in the country.