Annual Year-end Auto Exhibition at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani
by John K. Lindgren
It was “TIME” again, the 33rd edition of the yearly motor expo cum sales extravaganza kicked off with the participation of 36 brands of cars/trucks and 19 brands of motorbikes including iconic nameplates such as Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Harley-Davidson and Royal Enfield. Car sales went down 17 percent and motorbikes climbed up 38 percent.
The 2016 Motor Expo (December 2-12) was themed “Connect the World… Connect People: Smart Vehicles” and the big event went ahead as originally planned with activities appropriately amended plus stringent control over how models were attired as well as the cancellation of the ‘Smart Pretty Vote’. This exceptional ruling was put in place with due respect to the recent passing of the country’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The late Thai monarch passed away on October 13, 2016 at the age of 88, after 70 years on the throne.
Highlights from the exhibition floors featured a great variety of vehicles from a limited edition BMW two-door coupe to a glimpse of pending mass-market seven-seat crossovers. First the BMW M4 GTS Coupe with only 700 units available in the world, a fierce, souped-up Beemer M4 propelled by a 500-hp 3.0-liter turbo engine with racy exterior and interior trim. The price a cool 14 million baht.
Two prototype/concept crossovers: Hyundai Enduro Concept from South Korea is purely a show car that blends a three-door hatchback body with SUV stance. A four-seat crossover with pronounced styling cues like the oversized black flared fenders. Under the bonnet a 2-liter turbo unit hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Japanese rolled out Mitsubishi XM Concept vehicle. A crossover MPV with futuristic angular design is Mitsubishi’s compact people carrier developed to compete with Honda BR-V. Expect the new ‘Mitsu’ XM with seven seats to be production-ready next year.
More exhibition snippets: The German, Munich based BMW introduced a price-leading version of the 330e plug-in hybrid in sport luxury guise costing 2.599 million baht. From Stuttgart, the new Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe. Now locally assembled in CKD form to help bring down its price to 3.24 million baht in Sport and 3.59 million baht in AMG Dynamic trim.
From the Thai-Chinese MG a smaller 1.5-liter petrol engine with direct-injection and turbo power. The MG GS compact SUV now joins the bigger 2.0-liter model in Thai showrooms. Price range: 890,000 to 990,000 baht.
The European motorcycle brands displayed cool big bikes including: BMW, Ducati, KTM, Triumph and one three-wheeler (tricycle) Piaggio. All the bike stands attracted big crowds of onlookers.
Chalatchai Paphatphong, vice president of Inter-Media Consultant, said that while vehicle bookings at the event failed to hit the organizer’s expectation of 50,000 units, most distributors expressed satisfaction with the figures given the current situation.
Toyota saw the most booking at 5,124 units, followed by Honda (4,902), Isuzu (3,620), Mazda (3,434) and Ford (2,441). In the premium segment Mercedes-Benz secured the most bookings with 1,722 units, while BMW came second with 979 vehicles. Chalatchai added that motorcycle bookings fared better that expectations, led by GPX (1,109), Vespa (1,059), Yamaha (1,040), Honda (791) and Stallions (722).
Inter-Media Consultant Co, the organizer of Thailand International Motor Expo 2016, concluded that the vehicle bookings tallied 40,364 units from November 30 to December 12 (including Press/VIP day), down 10.1 percent from year 2015.
Totally 32,422 cars/trucks were booked, down 17.1 percent while motorcycle bookings shot up 38.2 percent to 7,942.
Happy & Safe Motoring Year 2017