Small cars and pickups headline 2019 Thailand International Motor Expo

There are really several kinds of automotive shows.

There are car shows which can range from a local gathering of enthusiasts or even a larger auto salon-type event that involves aftermarket shops or companies. There are also major motor shows that involve big industry players like you would find in Detroit, Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt, or Tokyo. These Big Five motor shows are exhibit-type trade events where you'd usually see the debuts of futuristic concept cars or global all-new models.

There is, however, a huge gap in between. And that's where you'll find something like the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS), the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS), or the one we visited recently: the Thailand International Motor Expo just outside of Bangkok.

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Motor shows and expos in Thailand are unique in the global auto show circuit for the fact that they are “selling shows” as compared to the purely exhibit events such as the Big Five. The UFI-approved Thailand International Motor Expo is now on its 36th year prides itself with such that it significantly contributes to the country’s auto sales volume to the tune of over THB 50 billion (about USD 1.65 billion). One lucky car buyer from the estimated 50,000 customers will even get a chance to win a brand-new Mini Countryman

This year’s Motor Expo saw virtually no concept car, at least for the futuristic kind. Automakers decided to go all-out selling this year as they present their latest offerings for car buyers. They practically vowed to prop up sales to close the year on a positive note despite a slowdown during the third quarter of 2019.

With some of the new models launched just weeks or days prior to the show, prospective buyers would have had ample time to prepare themselves and their checkbooks.

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Headlining this year’s event are small cars such as the Honda City which debuted on November 25. The new City has a newly defined look, and comes with a variety of improvements over the previous generations such as a 1.0-liter VTEC Turbo engine.

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Mitsubishi showed off the revised Mirage and Attrage; the latter being the Thai name for the model we call the Mirage G4. While there were no major mechanical changes, these new Mitsubishis now have the signature Dynamic Shield look, albeit in an eco-car package.

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Nissan was also out in full force with the Almera as they seek to replace the model that they have been selling for most of this decade. All of these models were recently launched, and signify a major revamp of the hotly contested ‘eco car’ segment.

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But pickups will forever be the major force of Thai motoring. Thailand actually manufactures nearly all of the models for the ASEAN market as well as for several markets around the world

Next Attractions: 2019 Thai Motor Expo shows what

The major public launch at the show was definitely the all-new 2020 Isuzu D-Max pick-up truck. The new model sports a very defined look, a long list of engineering and technological improvements, and better capabilities.

Not wanting to be outdone are Chevrolet, Ford, MG, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Toyota with special editions and variants of their respective pickup offerings.

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Some automakers also chose the event as their platform to launch new products like the Porsche Cayenne Coupe, BMW X3 M, and Volvo V60.

Organizers shared that this year’s event spans over 100,000 square-meters worth of exhibits from 34 auto brands, 26 motorcycle brands, a lot of accessory companies and motorsport-related displays.

Organizers are hoping to attract a total of 1.6 million visitors to this year’s event. Part of their intensive promotion campaign includes convenience improvements for visitors such as shuttles from key transport hubs and digital tickets with QR codes. Show visitors will also get a chance to win an MG 3 hatchback just by purchasing an entry ticket to the event. Visitors who download the Motor Expo app will also get a chance to win a Samsung Note 10.

To keep the young ones busy, they have also provided an area with relevant activities for children and introduced interactive features through the aid of digital technology. Much like the Los Angeles Auto Show we recently attended, we were very much relieved to see plenty of cars on display.

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Auto accessories, detailing products and lifestyle items are also sold on the show floor. To encourage visitors to shop more, a Suzuki Celerio is being raffled off to those who purchase at least 3,000 baht worth of merchandise.

But perhaps the most significant indicator from the Thailand International Motor Expo is that it shows us what the next attractions are in the Philippine market. The successor to the Honda City and the Nissan Almera are very significant, as well as the new design of the Mitsubishi Mirage models. We're also keen to see the D-Max on Philippine roads as it represents a remarkable upgrade over the current model our market has.

The Thailand International Motor Expo runs until the 10th of December at the Impact Challenger in Muang Thong Thani.