April 08, 2014 00:00 By Kingsley Wijayasinha
The 35th Bangkok International Motor Show saw almost 40,000 orders placed before it ended on Sunday, which was a help, but the struggling auto industry is still not hopeful about the near future because of the uncertain political situation.
“Right now it is impossible to plan for the future, since we don’t know what will happen,” Pitak Pruitti-sarikorn, director of Honda Automobile Thailand, said during the opening day.
The event was expected to help generate some needed demand for the market, which fell by more than 40 per cent during the first two months of the year.
While affordable marques like Toyota and Honda usually lead the sales race, this year’s show marked a shift towards luxury brands.
Mercedes-Benz, highlighting its new C-Class, and BMW, with the new 2-Series, were highly successful, as Mercedes grabbed 2,060 orders and BMW 1,383. Mini, which is considered a luxury subcompact, also did well with 109 orders.
Volvo sold 183 cars, while Lexus had 111 orders, Land Rover 46 and Jaguar 14. Carlsson, which isn’t even a major brand as it offers tuned-up Mercedes-Benzes, sold 30.
Porsche, featuring its new 911 Turbo S and Macan sport-utility vehicle, secured 13 orders, while three orders were placed at the Bentley booth.
Another surprise was Master Group Corporation, the official importer for Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin. Ten Rolls-Royces were booked at a sticker price of more than Bt20 million each, while Aston, participating for the first time, received seven orders.
“You can see that there’s a drop in sales of eco-cars as demand has been used up,” Jaturont Komolmis, vice chairman of the organising committee, said yesterday. “But in the luxury segment, customers don’t seem to worry and are purchasing the latest models.”
Japanese makes were the most popular, led by Toyota with 9,514 orders, thanks to the redesigned Corolla Altis, followed by Honda with 5,617, Isuzu with 4,602 and Mazda with 3,482, of which more than 1,600 were for the new Mazda3.
Others were Mitsubishi (3,093), Nissan (2,723), Ford (2,572), Chevrolet (1,716), Suzuki (875), Hyun-dai (727), Subaru (240), Volkswagen (80), Ssangyong (44) and Jeep (30).
Grand Prix Group plans to boost show space for the expo in Muang Thong Thani next year after this year’s 3,400-square-metre expansion. It will also launch its first overseas motor show in Phnom Penh in October.
“We will be committed to organising the new event for three years and we’ll also study the possibility of holding similar events in other countries,” Jaturont said.