The annual Bangkok International Motor show has become a major event over the years: one that marks the start of the Thai car-buying season. In 2012, the 33rd year of the show is likely to turn into a serious battle between auto companies struggling to pull their industry from the wreckage caused by last year’s flood crisis.
This year, Thailand’s motor show is expected to include a historic number of launches for new models. A large number of automakers are launching new products made under the auspices of the governments ecologically-friendly car project. Other new vehicles are also expected to appear, including pick-up trucks by Mazda, Chevrolet, Ford and Isuzu. According to the event’s organizer, Prachin Eamlumnow, however, the eco-cars are likely to take the center stage of this year’s “Technology Difference” themed show.
Twenty-one different manufacturers from India, Korea, Japan, Europe and the United States are expected to participate in the 2012 show. They’ll be focusing on ecologically-friendly cars including the Mitsubishi Mirage and Suzuki Swift, both of which are produced under the Thai government’s eco-car scheme. These vehicles are quickly becoming more popular with the general public. Manufacturers are also expected to debut new versions of the Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Trailblazer.
The Bangkok International Motor Show is also expected to include a large number of luxury vehicles, as premiere auto manufacturers move into developing markets. Rolls-Royce, Bentley and many others will show cars in 2012. The most expensive production car at this year’s show is expected to be the McLaren F1, McLaren Automotive’s supercar capable of speeds as high as 242 miles per hour. This vehicle sells for up to $1,940,000 US. Other vehicles present at the show will include concept cars from manufacturers such as Tata, Hyundai, Lexus and Toyota.
Show organizers expect more than 1.7 million visitors at the Bangkok International Motor Show, to be held at Muang Thong Thani between the dates of March 28 and April 8. This show will be one of the biggest in show history. Organizers expect that a record 40,000 or more orders will be placed, due to the disruption of the vehicle supply chain that occurred along with last years flooding. Many consumers have been waiting for the opportunity to buy vehicles. Eco-car sales alone are expected to total at least 15,000.
The Rise of the Small Car
The trend worldwide is for small cars with high energy-efficiency and a reduced impact on the environment. According to show organizers, passenger cars are among the most popular choices, including city cars, compact cars and luxury passenger vehicles. This marks a change from the December Thailand International Motor Expo, which favored pickup trucks, probably due to the flooding still occurring at that time.
The most-discussed cars include the Suzuki Swift and Mitsubishi Mirage, which are likely to take some market share from Nissan’s Almera and March, as well as Honda’s Brio. The Brio was briefly unavailable due to the flooding, as well as the tsunami and earthquake crisis in East Japan. Submerged production plants and other problems have prevented production until this April, when the Brio is expected to reappear in showrooms.
Tata, an Indian car manufacturer, has suffered a minor setback with its Tata eco-car, which doesn’t qualify for Thailand’s First Car Buyer program. The company keeps moving forward with the Nano, however, and distributed ten to each dealer late in February. This vehicle retails for 275,000 Baht and has a manual transmission. Tata will show the Nano at its booth.
Luxury Manufacturers Active
Small cars won’t be the only vehicles at the show this year, though. Toyota will be launching its new hybrid Prius, GT 86 and Camry, while Honda will be bringing back the new Civic, which was postponed last year due to flooding. Hyundai is offering the Elantra, of which it hopes to sell about 1,000 units, but does not intend to offer the Accent, since the vehicle doesn’t qualify for the First Car Buyer program. Hyundai will also test the market for its sports hatchback, the Veloster.
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