2008 Bangkok International Motor Show : Sales figures

The 2008 Bangkok International Motor Show was a big success, and with sales of over 18,000 units, things are looking good for the industry in 2008.

Some of the sales figures are very interesting, and while Toyota, Honda and Isuzu continue to top the charts as usual, there are some interesting surprises.

  Motor Show 2008 Sales
Manufacturer Units
Audi 38
BMW 269
Chevrolet 1,632
Citroen 25
Ford 475
Grand Carry Boy 109
Honda 2,511
Hyundai 315
Isuzu 2,490
Kia 617
Lexus 34
Mazda 837
Mercedes Benz 70
Mini 34
Mitsubishi 828
Mitsuoka 13
MTM 18
Naza 524
Nissan 1,068
Ssangyong 128
Subaru 30
Suzuki 87
Tata N/A
Toyota 5,137
Volkswagen 100
Volvo 59
Wuling 35
Total 18,098

Toyota, Honda, Isuzu - The usual suspects

Yet again Toyota were well ahead on sales with 5,137 unit sales at the show. This is a very impressive tally, and the recent launch of the new Altis was no doubt responsible for a large portion of those sales.

To put things into perspective second and third place figures from Honda and Isuzu combined still fall short of Toyota's sales, by over 100 units! For those of you not familiar with the industry in Thailand it should be noted that there is a simple explanation for this. Toyota make cars and trucks and vans while Honda only sell passenger cars, and Isuzu only sell trucks and SUVs derived from trucks.

Honda sales will also have been boosted by the new 2nd generation Jazz. The Honda line-up is now very fresh looking, with only the City waiting for an update. The Civic is now the oldest of the new generation Honda model line, and that still looks very radical, looking more modern than the brand new Toyota Altis. The CR-V and Accord are also fresh in their respective segments. This fact, and the recent launch of the Jazz will have contributed to a sales tally of 2,511 for Honda.

Isuzu is a strange beast. With dwindling sales around the globe and the recent pull out from the US market, you'd be forgiven for considering Isuzu a dead brand. But if you don't look outside Thailand, you'd think that Isuzu was the worlds leading truck maker. In Thailand the D-Max is a big seller. The current D-Max might look like a modern truck, but the underpinnings are getting tired, and this is the 3rd facelift of the current model.

There are many newer and better trucks on the market, but the D-Max trundles on, generating sales on the back of a strong reputation for reliability. The current "Gold Series" campaign is also a winning idea in Thailand, where the simple addition of gold coloured logos and a "Gold Series" sticker help attract attention and therefore sales, although I think it all looks very pretentious on a pick-up truck.


The big surprise is the Naza Forza. Although we already had a look at this one, I think this story could also benefit from some perspective. The Forza racked up 524 units for Naza. Ford sold 475 units total. Hyundai sold 315.

Ford were trying to lure more customers to their soon-to-be-replaced Ranger, which although a pretty recent model on the inside, the chassis it is based on is old and showing that age. The Wildtrak version of the Ranger is nothing more than a regular ranger with some extra stickers and a few bits of trim.

Ford were telling us to get ready for a surprise at the show, but I failed to notice it. Did you?

Meanwhile Hyundai are trying to compete in the very tough Camry/Accord market with the Sonata, and this is the only main stream market they are attacking. Unfortunately, despite the price difference, the Sonata is struggling to make any impression and this is unlikely to change even with the new face-lifted version due out later this year.

But the point here is simply this: Thais seem to want small cheap cars. Or, there is no point in going in against

Tata and Proton

Something that Thais might not want some much is another pickup truck maker joining the market. Tata sales figures are not included on this list, but you can be sure that they would have been if the Indian company had been satisfied with the results.

Of course there could be some good reasons as to why we are not hearing about the Tata sales results yet. My guess is that I was not the only one to find the Tata Xenon to be a below-par product, and even with pricing being very low you would be very brave to be an early buyer.

Proton have gone too quiet since their initial splash down at the Motor Expo in November 2007. They chalked up a reasonable number of sales, but have been struggling to fulfil orders placed back then, and haven posted any sales figures since.

Proton were also missing from the Motor Show, and this is a worrying sign that things aren't going as planned. One would naturally have expected the newcomer to try and garner a footing in the market with a strong appearance at this Show too, but they were a no-show.

Everything else....

Everything else is pretty much ordinary, and what you would expect. Chevrolet taking number 4 spot - well ahead of Nissan - might be a slight surprise, but then again Nissan continuing to linger down the order is not such a surprise.

Nissan is suffering of late with a combination of old products like the Teana and X-Trail starting to tire, and newer products like the Navara and Tiida failing to meet expectations. The single cab Navara should help matters there, but it is hard to imagine Nissan going any other way except down for the foreseeable future.

What's the point?

Well, Motor Show sales figures give the industry a pretty clear indication of things to come for the remainder of the year. Isuzu and Toyota analysts will be crunching the numbers and coming up with projections for total figures for 2008 and beyond.

And a quick look at the success of the show would suggest that this will be a good year for the auto industry, but it also serves as an indication that confidence is returning to the Thai economy. That said, there are so many reasons to think that this success could be short lived, and 2008 might end with disappointment. With the price of oil $115 a barrel as I write, uncertainty surrounding the looming "rice crisis", caution will likely return to the motor industry in the coming months.

The situation is confused a little too, in that the sales success of the show could be a combination of new car launches, and the E20 promotions.