By KINGSLEY WIJAYASINHA
Carmakers had earlier expected the Thai automobile market to hit 800,000 units of sales this year. However, improving consumer confidence and launches of new models have since given the industry a stronger boost than predicted with some auto companies raising the 2017 sales projection to 840,000 units for the whole industry.
From January to October, a total of 689,266 vehicles were sold in the country, up 11.7 per cent compared with the corresponding period last year, according to figures complied by Toyota Motor Thailand Co Ltd.
Mazda Sales (Thailand) Co Ltd Vice President Atsushi Yasumoto said the company had raised its sales target from 50,000 units announced at the start of the year, to 51,000 units, a growth of 20 per cent from the total sales figure last year.
He said during the past 10 months, the situation of the Thai automobile industry had improved significantly due to many positive factors.
“Mazda believes that total automobile sales in Thailand will reach 840,000 units in 2017, higher than many had anticipated at the start of the year,” he said.
“The Motor Expo also serves as a marketplace for customers to shop for new automobiles from various brands and enjoy attractive sales promotions. In addition, the Thai government's economic stimulus packages throughout the year have also contributed to a favorable atmosphere, making it easier for customers to purchase a vehicle.”
Organisers of the Motor Expo said they expected 40,000 orders to be placed for automobiles and 7,000 for motorcycles.
“This year we have two concept vehicles on display and as many as 20 all-new and minor-change models, said Kwanchai Paphatphong, chairman of the organising committee.
Kwanchai attributed brisk sales to the recovering economy and arrival of the year-end auto-buying season.
“We expect as much as 1.5 million visitors this year while Bt50 billion is expected to be generated from the Motor Expo,” he added.
Among the highlights at this year's show are the new Nissan Leaf EV (Electric Vehicle), which is making its first appearance in Thailand before the official launch early next year. The Leaf is powered by an electric motor and comes with the latest autonomous features.
Toyota is also staging the soft launch for its C-HR subcompact crossover that is expected to be a big hit once it's officially launch early next year as well.
Mazda, however, is banking on its all-new CX-5 crossover, which has already collected over 2,000 orders since it was introduced earlier this month with prices starting at Bt1.29 million.
The luxury segment is active every year, with major brands offering exciting new products. Mercedes-Benz now has two other sub-brands – Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-MAYBACH. New models include the Mercedes-AMG GT R and GT C, and the Mercedes-MAYBACH S560.
Arch rival BMW also has a bunch of new and improved models including the 6 Series GT and X3 compact crossover, while Audi is expanding its product lineup with the launch of the A5 Sportback and A4 Avant all-wheel-drive station wagon.
In addition to Porsche pulling the wraps off the new Cayenne SUV, which is undoubtedly the most popular luxury SUV in the market, other eye-catching luxury models include the Maserati Levante, which aims to challenge the Cayenne, and the Lexus LS saloon, the competitor to BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class.
Super luxury cars are also enjoying the spotlight. The Rolls-Royce Dawn, priced at over Bt34 million, is the marque's latest convertible. Aston Martin is also present with the new DB11 sportscar.
Public days for the Motor Expo is scheduled for November 30 to December 11, at IMPACT Muangthong Thani.