January 15, 2014 00:00 By Kingsley Wijayasinha
Asia's favourite custom-car event grows in size, even attracting Thai firms
The Tokyo Auto Salon, Asia’s favourite custom-car event, has grown in size and for the first time took up the entire Makuhari Messe this year.
The event, which was held during the weekend, occupied Halls 1-11 plus the Event Hall at Makuhari in Chiba Prefecture. It also played host to the Tokyo Motor Show for many years before the event was downsized and relocated to Tokyo Big Sight.
While the number of exhibitors has decreased by about 5 per cent to 428, a notable difference is the participation of all major Japanese car manufacturers. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Subaru, Suzuki and Daihatsu all had booths at this year’s Auto Salon. Hino, which is a commercial vehicle brand, also took part this year.
“After the global financial crisis in 2009 only Toyota, Honda and Nissan were present, but over the years more brands have returned to our event,” said Masanori Kanno, who is a member of the organising committee.
“Suzuki and Subaru rejoined in 2011 while Mazda came in 2012, but this is the first time that all eight Japanese car companies were present,” he added.
Even foreign brands like Mercedes-Benz also took part (through its distributor) along with Renault, Fiat, General Motors and Chrysler. As many as 100,000 people visited the show each day, making daily attendance higher than the Tokyo Motor Show, Kanno added.
Meanwhile, exhibits at the Auto Salon ranged from car tuning and “dress-up” parts and accessories to motorsports merchandise, as well as auto-related games and products. Many of the cars on display highlighted new tuning technologies.
Over the years, the Tokyo Auto Salon has gained popularity across Asian nations, including Thailand, which also has its own version called the Bangkok International Salon (BIAS). The event is licensed with the Japanese organiser, and is staged by Inspire Group, part of Siam Sport Syndicate.
Apart from Japanese exhibits, there were also cars from overseas, including Europe, the US and even Thailand.
Nitto Header and Turbo is a well-known brand in the Thai aftermarket industry and the firm also displayed a tuned-up drift car at this year’s show. Another Thai manufacturer is PP Wheels, which displayed a large variety of wheels and a tuned-up Isuzu D-Max pickup truck that attracted much attention from Japanese show goers. Overdrive is a private Thai racing team that is interested in bringing accessories from Japan for sale back in Thailand, while products from Up Garage is also being planned for the Thai market as well.
The BIAS booth was one of the most visited, with the four Thai “pretties” being the most photographed booth babes at the event.
Wiluck Lothong, who is the organiser of the BIAS, said that a large number of new car models were launched last year and they were presented with custom-made parts.
“We also plan to exhibit these cars at the BIAS later in June in order to show Thai customers the latest trend in customisation from Japan,” he said. “But an important mission for us is to strengthen the presence of the NAPAC (Nippon Auto Parts Aftermarket Committee), which is the co-organiser of the Tokyo Auto Salon, at the BIAS.”
Wiluck said his goal was to expand the market for Thai auto parts manufacturers, and business-to-business collaboration with NAPAC and neighbouring countries would help them realise and achieve international standards. This year’s BIAS will also see larger participation from Chinese and European companies, as well as firms producing big bikes.
Isuzu D-Max by PP Wheels
This customised truck from Thailand gets an IHI turbo mated to a Blitz intercooler, Bosch fuel system, 20-inch wheels on Falken FK452 tyres, Brembo brakes, Recaro sports seats and a host of other accessories.
Jun&Akira R35 GTR
Based on the Nissan GTR, the engine is modified with a new stroker kit, camshaft, turbo kit, surge tank and throttle from Jun, Brakes from Endless, 20-inch wheels from Yokohama on Dunlop SP600RFT tyres and Recaro seats plus aero parts from Jun and Top-Secret.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Highlighted at the Mitsubishi booth, this is the Asia Cross Country Rally 2013 support car made by Two & Four Motor Sports.
Roen X Treasure One
Based on the Honda N-Box, its customisation concentrates on exterior and interior styling, featuring a leopard theme.
The Nissan GTR has been modified by Kansai to produce as much as 1,000ps with various engine upgrades, a new ECU and turbo kit from Kansai. Brakes by Endless and Yokohama 20-inch wheels with Dunlop SP Sport GT600 tyres are also fitted.
Nissan March Nismo S
The Thai-made Nissan March was sent to Japan and beefed up by Nissan’s official tuner Nismo. It gets a 1.5-litre engine delivering 116ps at 6,000rpm and 156Nm at 3,600rpm along with a large number of body parts, giving it a serious hot hatch look.
Honda Vezel Modulo Concept
Honda is planning to launch the Vezel subcompact SUV in Thailand and here is a dressed up version from Modulo, the company’s official accessories brand, for both the hybrid AWD and FF versions.
Mazda Axela Sport
The Mazda Axela (Mazda3) Sport’s SkyActiv diesel engine pumps out 175ps at 4,500rpm and 420Nm of torque at 2,000rpm while maintaining a fuel consumption of 21.4km/l. A range of accessories are available, ranging from an interior of super sport seats to a sports exhaust system.