By KINGSLEY WIJAYASINHA
The first few days of the Bangkok Motor Show, which is a highlight of a prime auto-buying season in Thailand, usually sees interested customers check out vehicles closely, as well as comparing promotions among several brands.
According to organisers, customers often visit the show several times before making a purchase of a particular model towards the last few days of the event, or even after the show ends.
Every year, big sellers at the show include Toyota, Honda and Isuzu, but smaller brands such as Mazda and Ford are seeing increased orders. Meanwhile, luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW also usually notch up sizeable sales during the show.
Last year, a total of 32,571 orders were placed, which was lower than the 40,000 forecast by show organiser Dr Prachin Eamlumnow. Although he did not make forecasts this year, many believe that more than 40,000 vehicles will be sold during the 12-day auto fest.
Although the highlight at the Mercedes-Benz booth is the fully imported new E-Class Coupe, bulk sales will come from locally assembled models that are priced more competitively, such as the CLA-Class and the C-Class, which is also available in PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) form.
Last year Mercedes-Benz sold 2,065 vehicles at the show, an all-time record for a luxury brand’s sales at the Bangkok International Motor Show.
BMW’s new 5 Series will also be gaining buyers looking for a performance sedan, while the company’s iconic Mini brand usually wins a good number of customers every year.
But this year, many eyes are on Audi, which is being sold by a new importer, Meister Technik, headed by financial tycoon Krisada Lamsam, who has decided to invest in the luxury-auto retail sector. Audi pins its hopes on crossover models like the Q5, as well as special “Quattro” all-wheel-drive performance models that have a cult following,
“The market was at its lowest point last year, so there’s one way to go and that’s up,” said a Toyota Motor Thailand executive. He said the unusual growth experienced by the market during the first quarter was due to the launch of new models that would normally be introduced at year-end period.
“Last year several companies decided to postpone new model launches because of the national mourning period [for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej] and had to introduce them during the first quarter of this year instead,” he said.
He said the Bangkok motor show would help keep the market momentum into the second quarter.