BMW on the up, despite market dip

BMW logo

The new BMW styling might not be to everyones taste, certainly not mine, but apparently Thais with money to spend on luxury cars are more than happy with the German outfit's current generation of cars.

According to recent figures BMW enjoyed sales of about 2,200 cars in the first 10 months of 2006, an increase of 23%!

This increase would be a compelling enough argument for the popularity of the direction BMW have taken with their bold new corporate image, but when you factor in the 10% decline in sales experienced by the luxury car market in the same period, even folks like me have to concede that BMW must be doing something right.

Government wants more money

According to a story in The Nation, the Thai Excise Department are looking for ways to make more money.

Of primary interest to the motor industry is the possibility of a change in the way motor excise is calculated. The new system would calculate excise tax based on the retail price of the vehicle, rather than the "manufacturers price".

Thailand International Motor Expo 2006 Photos

The Thailand International Motor Expo 2006 kicks off tomorrow but I managed to sneak into today's press and VIP day. Although I went with very low expectations, remembering last year, I was still disappointed with the Expo, and now I'm looking forward now to the Bangkok International Motor Show 2007.

For now I have just uploaded some images from the Expo, and over the next few days I'll add more, and update them with some comments and observations.

Pumping gas, 24hrs a day

From 1st December Thailand's gas stations will once again be allowed to open all night, overturning a law that has been in effect since 12th July which forced the closure of gas stations between 22:00 and 05:00.

The law was part of the Thaksin administration's energy-saving campaign, and was intended to reduce overall fuel consumption.

2007 Honda CR-V "Something new to crave"

"Something new to crave" and "Redesign your life" are the two marketing slogans that Honda are using on their recently updated ilovecrv site. Yes, the new 2007 CR-V is now featured on the site, complete with lots of flash graphics.

It's been said that the 2007 Honda CR-V is prettier in the metal, and that is totally possible. The images I've seen so far are not helping it's case, but then again when you're driving it around you don't have to look at it.

The CR-V will be officially unveiled to the Thai public at the Thailand International Motor Expo which kicks off on the 30th November. It is also rumored to be on show at Siam Paragon. I'll be having a close look at the CR-V tomorrow, and will post an overview.

Mazda to start production of small cars in Thailand

Mazda Demio

According to this story from The Nation, Mazda plans to bring production of the Demio to Thailand. According to the article production will not start until 2009. By then Honda should already have the new Jazz.

The Demio is known as the Mazda 2 in some markets, and will probably use that name here to fit in below the 3. The Mazda Demio platform will be updated next year and will also form the basis for a Ford small car, in a reverse of the current arrangement whereby the Focus shares its underpinnings with the Mazda 3.

The new factory should produce 200,000 units a year, a welcome boost to Thailand's "Detroit of Asia" ambitions.

Diesel - Not just for trucks

Merc S-Class

Okay, alternative fuel might be a misleading category in which to place an article about diesel, however in the context of the Thai passenger car market, diesel is very much an underutilized alternative to the petrol engine.

In Europe there are very few cars on the market that don't have at least one diesel-engine option and in many cases the diesel-engined versions are the top sellers.

In Thailand there are only a handful of passenger cars that offer diesel power, and none of them are mainstream models. Why is it taking so long for diesel to catch on in passenger car transport? Let's take a look.

Thai auto market down 10.5% in October

October was a bad month for the Thai automobile industry with sales of only 51,390, down by 10.5% on sales in October 2005.

Despite the drop in overall sales, passenger car sales were actually up, finding growth of 13.7% from sales of 14,860 for the month. But the Thai automotive industry owes it's success almost entirely to the sales of 1-ton-pickup trucks, and this is where the big losses were. A mere 33,484 units were sold in October, which is down by over 18%.

European traffic, order from chaos?

Some European cities are running trials of a new concept in urban traffic management. Seemingly the best way to ensure smooth flowing traffic, and to increase safety in town is to remove the rules, and depend totally on people being responsible.

This from The Spiegel:

"European traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren -- by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs."

Would this work in Bangkok?

You can read more about it on The Spiegel.

2007 (or 2008) Toyota Corolla Altis

Taxi

The Corolla Altis is starting to get old here in Thailand, and next to the youthful and stylish Honda Civic it is starting to show it's age. The 9th generation Corolla was a typically conservative offering from Toyota, but practical and well built at the same time.

In Thailand the Altis is always immediately associated with the various coloured Taxi cabs on the streets of Bangkok. This is a fact that puts some people off buying the car for private use, but Toyota probably isn't too worried considering the volume of sales the Taxi fleet represents.

Exclusive - 2007 Chevrolet Captiva Spy Shots

With the Thailand International Motor Expo just a few weeks away it's to be expected that auto makers will be preparing to debut the odd new addition to their lineups.

We caught up with one of these in Bangkok this evening. At first we believed that we were looking at Honda's new CR-V under heavy disguise, and when we got closer we were sure we saw a Honda badge poking out from under the cladding on the rear of the car.

Motor Expo Most Wanted - Toyota FJ Cruiser

FJ Cruiser Small Image

Yesterday we started to take a look at Toyota, and make suggestions about cars that we'd like to see at the Motor Expo. Now, I know that there is little or no hope of Toyota bringing any of these vehicles to Thailand, but surely there would be a market for some interesting cars here. Often car makers make claim to understand the market here, claiming that they know what Thai motorists want.

While this may be so, did anybody ask them if they want the FJ Cruiser? No? I didn't think so.

Isuzu and Toyota in business alliance

Toyota Motor Corp and Isuzu Motors Ltd have jointly announced a signed memorandum of understanding, which will kick off a study into the possibility of future business collaboration.

For the most part this potential collaboration is likely to be focused on research & development and the production of diesel engines, joint R&D of emission-control technologies and devices (again for diesel engines), and environmental technologies including the use of alternative fuels.

Motor Expo Most Wanted - Toyota Auris

Continuing our look at cars that are unlikely to be at the Thailand International Motor Expo, but that we'd like to see there all the same, it's time to take a look a the Toyota Auris.

Toyota are the biggest selling auto maker in Thailand. Their range of cars is large too, with no less than twelve models in the lineup. Surely there's something for everyone in that lot? That might be the case, but it would help make the Motor Expo interesting if Toyota brought one of these along:

Higher import duties might end trade

Toyota Hiace

UMW Holdings Bhd, a company that exports Toyota Hiace vans from Malaysia to Thailand, is worried at a devision by the Thai government to maintain import duties of 20% on vehicles built in Malaysia.

UMW argues that a rate of 5% should apply in accordance with the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT). The CEPT limits tariffs to a rate of 5% (or lower) on goods that have a ASEAN content of 40% or more, and this is the case for the Malaysian built Hiace.

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