New Year Revelations - Forecast for 2007
As 2006 draws to a close many people seem interested in reviewing the year that was, but bkkAtuos.com would rather look to the future. Before we get into our 2007 forecast, be aware that these are our predictions and might not be entirely accurate.
Although we can't guarantee anything, the information in this preview might be of some use in identifying models that are approaching end of life.
So without further ado, let's get back to the future and see what 2007 (2550) will bring.
Starting with Thailand's biggest auto maker, and expected to overtake GM for the global #1 spot in 2007, Toyota will have another busy year in Thailand.
We expect two new models from Toyota in 2007: Vios and Altis.
Now, over a year ago we pointed out the Belta as the possible Vios replacement. The Belta has been on sale in Japan for over a year also, and we figured that the Vios was due a replacement. We were right about the car, but completely wrong about the time frame. The Toyota Belta will come to Thailand as the Vios in 2007!!
The Vios has been a very successful car for Toyota, dominating a very popular yet under-nourished segment of the market. 2006 brought some fresh opposition in the form of the Chevrolet Aveo, sales are finally starting to slip off for the Japanese giant. The 2007 Vios should restore Toyota's grip on the top. Don't expect budget pricing from Toyota however.
The Toyota Altis is also beginning to look battle weary next to the stylish and popular Honda Civic. We already took a look at the possibility of a 2007 launch for the replacement and now we would suggest a mid-year launch for the "baby Camry".
2007 might be a quiet enough year for Honda. Having just released the brand new 3rd generation CR-V, and the Civic still looking very fresh after its 2005 release, 2007 might not bring any all-new vehicles from Honda Thailand, but we can expect a final minor-change face lift for the Jazz and City as they approach end of life.
One possible surprise may come in the form of a brand new Stream, but don't hold your breath, even though the 2007 Stream is already on the market in Japan. The only reason I'm mentioning it here is that the current Stream is not a big seller in here in Thailand, and the new model might offer stronger competition to the Toyota Wish.
As we've reported already, the Nissan Navara is due for an early 2007 release date. The pickup should give Nissan a very good shot at the market, by effectively jumping a generation ahead of Toyota and Isuzu.
Nissan are very disappointed with the modest sales of the Tiida, and they are likely to start a more aggressive marketing campaign to try and boost sales.
Although there is nothing official on the cards - after the Navara - it is possible that we will see a new mini-SUV to replace the X-Trail.
Mitsubishi is pushing the Triton very hard right now, and that will continue their primary focus, however by the end of 2007 the new Lancer should be on the market, and that might win some fans. Based on the Mitsubishi X concept vehicle that was displayed at the 2006 Thailand International Motor Expo, the new Lancer is a much more exciting and dynamic looking car than the current model.
If the Lancer goes as well as it looks Mitsubishi could well have a hit on their hands. Although the Honda Civic, and 2007 Toyota Altis will both make it difficult as always for Mitsubishi to gain much of a foothold in the compact sedan segment.
Chevrolet is expecting to enjoy strong sales growth in 2007. Their recent decision to offer a 5 year warranty across the range should have a positive effect, but the addition of the Captiva to the range should help their cause further.
We spotted a disguised Captiva in Bangkok in November, and at the time believed that it might be unvailed at the 2006 Motor Expo in December. But now it seems more likely that the new SUV, which is to compete head on with the Honda CR-V, will make it's first public appearance at the 2007 Bangkok International Motor Show, if not sooner!
Unlike the CR-V the Captiva will offer 7 seats, and it will be available with a diesel engine! Honda were completely and utterly hammered out of the market by the Fortuner for the last 2 years, and although they are now enjoying strong sales of the 3rd generation CR-V, the Captiva may well put spoil the party when it arrives in the middle of 2007.
The Captiva will come with two engine options, the first being a 4 pot 2.4 liter petrol generating a less-than-impressive 142hp should satisfy those who don't understand the advantages of diesel. But the big seller should really be the diesel power unit. The commonrail, 2 liter diesel generates a decent 150hp, and naturally more torque and better fuel economy than the petrol.
Captiva prices are still not finalized for Thailand, but with the engine line up we can probably expect pricing to allow the Captiva to compete head on with the CR-V.
I have also read rumours of a small 5 door hatchback from Chevy. Perhaps a hatchback version of the Aveo to join the Yaris and Jazz?
Mazda are enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in Thailand, enjoying strong successes with the 3 and the new BT-50 pickup. The BT-50 is the sister truck to the Ford Ranger while the Mazda 3 shares it's platform with the Ford Focus. The 3 will probably get some minor changes and tweaking to the specification sheet in 2007.
The Mazda 6 has been on sale in other markets for over 3 years now, it is possible that Thailand will see this car soon, but with pricing approaching 2 million baht it is hard to see it being worth while. Mazda might also consider the CX-7 for the Thai market. With a 2.3 liter turbo engine and 7 seats, the crossover vehicle could give Honda even more to worry about.
Beyond the mainstream makers, Mercedes Benz will make the most movements in 2007. By the end of the year Mercedes should have a diesel engine option in every class including the A-class and the forthcoming 2007 C-Class. The E and S already have diesel models.
Volvo are also increasing their engine lineup for the XC-90 and yes, it is also a diesel.
Finally Hyundai motors are planning a new product launch, but at the moment it would only be speculation to suggest what it will be.
The 2007 Bangkok International Motor Show should be an interesting outing, with several new cars on the bill. And 2007 should be an interesting year in general for the Thai auto industry.
bkkAtuos.com would like to thank all our readers for your support throughout 2006. We will continue to bring you perspective on the Thai auto industry in 2007. Happy New Year!