By KINGSLEY WIJAYASINHA
THE NATION WEEKEND
Apart from the two major auto shows – namely the Bangkok International Motor Show in April and the Thailand International Motor Expo in December (with combined sales of almost 100,000 units) – auto exhibition and sales events on a smaller scale are held in between. These shows offer buyers not only new models but also specially crafted sales promotions during the low season.
The FAST Auto Show Thailand is one such popular event that’s held during the midyear period. This year the event takes place from June 26-30 at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Bitec).
Asadavuth Asasappakij is the vice chairman of the organising committee (which is chaired by his father and well-known auto critic Pattanadesh) responsible for the used-car division. Aside from the 2,000 or so orders that are expected to be placed for new vehicles, a further 1,000 is expected to come from used-car sales.
“Actually our show started off as a used-car show, but over the years our surveys shows that visitors want new cars to be included too, so they can compare which is the better deal,” says Asadavuth, 41.
With his father being an auto critic, Asadavuth often followed his parents to motoring events like test drives and car launches as a youngster.
“I enjoyed it because it was better than staying home alone. I got to go out to nice places all the time, and in many cases I also earned some pocket money, for example by working as an official at rally events,” he says.
Asadavuth continued his studies in Australia, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“At first my plan was to get a master’s in human resources, but the English-language requirement was a little higher than my average, so I switched over to a middle-of-the-road international business degree,” he says.
Initially, Asadavuth did not plan to return and help run the family business. “I planned on opening a restaurant in Australia, but my mother asked me to come back to help,” he says.
While the proverb “like father, |like son” may come to mind, Asadavuth says there are differences in his case.
“I like cars, too, but not in the same way as my dad – he’s from the old generation and is interested in repairing and maintenance. But for me, I enjoy the technology and I’m more interested in how a car drives, how it handles,” Asadavuth says.
Asadavuth’s family business includes V.A. and Sons Co Ltd (media), Advanced Activity Co Ltd (events), Autocar Magazine Co Ltd (syndicate) and King of Auto Products Co Ltd (joint venture with Inter Media Consultants for organising the FAST Auto Show).
Behind the wheel, there’s one experience in particular that stands out for him. He recalls the time he took a driver’s training session with race driver Natthavude Charoensukawattana after deciding to work in this field full time.
“Prior to that I always thought I was a pretty good driver, everybody does,” he reminisced with a chuckle. “I was driving a Nissan Tiida compact car, and after two laps at the Bira Circuit in Pattaya, Nattavudh told me that I was lucky that I was still alive. He said I had loads of courage, but no skills.”
Blending in with the automotive crowd was super easy for him, though. “As a kid, I was used to being at car events all the time and I knew practically everyone,” he says.
“So when I came back from Australia and entered this field, there were familiar faces to see, including you and others. It’s like working with friends and family.”