Exciting reveals, fun cars and trucks highlight 40 years of the Bangkok Motor Show
The doors of Impact Challenger halls once again opened for the Bangkok International Motor Show. Now on its 40th edition, BIMS welcomed VIP guests, international media, international visitors, local car buyers, and enthusiasts to 14 days of the grandest display of everything automotive in the Southeast Asian region.
A total of 33 different international automotive brands present on the 60,000 square meter exhibition space of the Challenger halls representing brands from China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, UK, and USA.
The grand opening ceremony was highlighted by a performance of the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra brand representatives, foreign dignitaries, and government representatives, along with Grand Prix PCL top brass who lit up their individual screens in unison to represent the unity brought about by 40 years of the Bangkok International Motor Show.
Opening the show in style was BMW with a three-car debut headlining this year’s event with the regional reveals of the Z4 roadster and X7 SUV. The 3 Series also held its Thai debut at the show.
This year’s showstopper would perhaps be the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro, albeit in a static show car form. The hypercar, which is powered by a 6.5-liter V12 with KERS is virtually an F1 car with a bodyshell and is limited to 25 examples, all of which are spoken for. It was flanked by the DBS Superleggera which was sold before the event even opened to public.
Audi set out to electrify the crowd with the fully-electric e-tron 55 quattro SUV, and the regional reveal of the new TT coupe in cool blue. Bentley revealed the Continental GT Convertible, Mercedes-Benz presented responsible luxury with the S 560 e AMG Premium, a plug-in hybrid under their EQ brand. Maserati came out with yet another update to the GranTurismo.
Lamborghini lorded it out in the realm of super sports cars with the presence of the Aventador SVJ, the current ‘King of the Nürburgring’ that’s been limited to 900 units.
Porsche set the stage for the Asian debut of its iconic 911 sports car. The 8th generation 911 was presented in Carrera S form and finished in yellow. It is equipped with a twin-turbo flat-6 rated at 450 horsepower, similar numbers to what a ‘more powerful’ 911 Turbo would about a decade ago.
While there was nothing particularly new at the McLaren stand, organizers pointed out that it was the participation of the sports car maker themselves, and not just the local distributor. A reflection of how important BIMS is as an international motor show and the significance of the Thai auto industry.
Toyota raised the flag for the Japanese automakers with the regional reveal of the Supra, a revival of their legendary 90’s sports car. Though this time, it’s a collaboration with BMW which also spawned their Z4. Toyota Thailand president (and former Toyota Motor Philippines president) Michinobu Sugata confirmed that they will launch the sports car in Thailand within 2019.
Honda officially unveiled the ASEAN-spec Accord midsize sedan at this year’s motor show. It will be powered by either a 1.5-liter turbo inline-4, similar to the Civic RS or an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter with a pair of electric motors for the hybrid version.
Thailand is pickup country, and a Bangkok Motor Show would not be complete without a significant pickup concept or launch. This Mitsubishi Triton Absolute concept (Strada for us) was an absolute brute. Essentially just a kitted-out version of the pickup, it aims to gauge interest in a possibly tougher version of the new Triton pickup which could rival similar versions of competitor models.
Pickup everything includes drag and circuit racing. Toyota came out with the dragster-inspired Hilux Z Edition dubbed “Black Mamba”, which was fitted with carbon fiber body panels and even a pair of carbon fiber seats. Isuzu displayed a “safety car concept” of its D-Max pickup.
Chevrolet made their presence felt with a bowtie rehash of the China-designed and developed Baojun 530. This will be badged as the new Chevrolet Captiva. It hopes to bring Chevy back to the arena against rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, and Toyota RAV-4. It is also branded as the MG Hector in India and Wuling Almaz in Indonesia.
MG, one of the fastest growing brands in Thailand, debuted the eZS, an EV version of the ZS crossover model which they plan to release to the Thai market. It was also the regional reveal for the model. They also launched the V80, an 11-seater van rebadged from the Maxus V80 The V80 was originally developed by LDV (Leyland DAF Vans) and Daewoo, it ended up with SAIC through a series of acquisitions.
Being one of the longest attendees of the motor show (since 2003), we thought it was only proper to recognize this momentous occasion by presenting a plaque of recognition to the Chairman and founder of the Bangkok International Motor Show: Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow.
With a rich history spanning four decades since its first event on April 2, 1979, the Bangkok International Motor Show has served as a launchpad for many automotive brands in the region. It is recognized globally with two decades of membership with the OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles). This year’s event which runs until April 7, is expected to attract over a million visitors and generate a significant amount of sales bookings.