2007 Bangkok International Motor Show theme

"Drive thru the nature." What is the first thing that enters your head as you read this? For me, and most others that I asked, it conjured up imagery of 4x4 vehicles careering through a forest with total disregard for the flora and fauna being displaced and destroyed. But insects splatted against a windshield, and small animals fleeing in terror, is not the intended direction this years Bangkok International Motor Show slogan is designed to take you.

Of course we all realise that this is actually somehow trying to suggest that we should find new ways to be at one with nature. As usual this slogan was probably given a lot of thought, and some marketing expert determined that "Drive thru the nature" was going to be highly effective in conveying the desired direction of this years show.

Apparently the show, which will run from the 30th March until the 8th of April, will be highlighting alternative fuels, and the lowering of diesel and gasoline consumption. Apparently there will be exhibits of alternative fuel projects to include those of HM the King.

The Bangkok International Motor Show is a very different proposition to the Thailand International Motor Expo, and feels more like a "real" motor show. The Expo is always a disappointment for me as it seems like little more than a large showroom, with auto makers trying to sell as much old product as possible to make way for the following year's new models. So while the Expo presented noting new, apart from a "unveiling" of the Nissan Navara, which they kept in a "box" for the whole show anyway.

In contrast the Bangkok International Motor Show will bring many new models to Thailand, and will even include a world premier of sorts.

Over the 10 days the Bitec facility will play host to around 25 auto brands, with around 300 companies participating. Event organisers will spend around THB 400 million to stage the event, with exhibitors spending around THB 4 billion to take part. But this is small money when you factor in the estimated 1.5 million visitors who will collectively spend as much as THB 40 billion at the show!

After a very quiet start to the year, auto makers will be hoping for brisk sales at the show, and a number of new models should help liven things up. Some people hold off for the show as it gives them a chance to see all the models they are considering in one place.

New cars

Among the new models being unveiled for the first time in Thailand will be the Volvo C30 and the Chevrolet Captiva. Mazda will also be adding the MPV (yes that is the name: "MPV") to their lineup, although this car has already been available via the grey import market. BMW will have the most new offerings with the all new X5, 3 Series convertible, and the brand new 2nd generation Mini.

More Mini

The Mini will not look new to most of us, but be assured that it is an entirely new car. The new Mini is 60mm longer than the previous model, and this has also allowed the wheelbase to be extended, and the center of gravity to be lowered. The overhangs are also reduced, and this "wheel-in-each-corner" design means that the Mini will be even better to drive. The engine line-up will also be improved, with more power, and better responsiveness through improved transmissions. But since the pricing for the Mini is going to remain at stupidly high levels, this car is one for the rich.

World premier... kind of

Another newcomer will be the new CL500 from Mercedes-Benz, showing for the first time in right-hand-drive form at the Bangkok show. Obviously this is not likely to attract the sort of attention a real premier launch would, it's still worth some note.

Nearly New

In addition to the new releases and first timers there will be a few vehicles that are still new enough to create some draw. The aforementioned Nissan Navara being one of them, and the new and recently released Toyota Vios which started appearing in Toyota showrooms this month.