The 2005 Thailand International Motor Expo was a bit of a let down for me. It was my first visit to the show, and having attended the Bangkok Motor Show previously the Expo simply didn't cut it as a motor show.
Sure there were cars, and there were girls, but a motor show should have concept cars. The Motor Expo seemed to only be a means for automakers to present their current models and flog them to visitors.
I will be attending this years show, but I'm not expecting much. In the lead up to the start of the show at the end of the month, I'll be sharing cars from the international motoring scene that are not likely to enter the Thai market, but that I would love to see here. Starting with:
Honda Automobile Thailand Co. are to increase their investment in their Thai operations by expanding their Ayutthaya plant.
The plant will manufacture engine parts which will negate the need to import them from Japan, while also increasing export capacity of auto parts from Thailand.
This brings Honda's total investment in Thailand to over THB16 billion in the 12 years the company has been operating here.
"Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and skilled team in Thailand are seen as a role model for Honda's sites all over the world." So says Honda president Hiroshi Toda.
Mitsubishi recently announced that they would be exporting the Triton from Thailand for sale in the Japanese market.
Don't be surprised if CBU Hondas start going in that direction.
Tokyo, Japan, Feb 13, 2006 - Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced today that the exports of the new Triton pickup truck produced at Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (MMTh), its local unit in Thailand, are to move onto a full-scale footing in the second half of 2006.
The commencement of full-scale exports announced today follows the start of Triton shipments to Europe (L200 in Europe) in December 2005. Triton is to be shipped a total of about 140 markets around the globe, including Australia, the Middle East, Latin America, the ASEAN region, and Japan.
Thailand saw its vehicles and automotive parts exports grow 47.6 percent in 2005 to 297.6 billion baht (7.44 billion U.S. dollars) and the exports are projected to continue expanding this year, said Toyota Motor Thailand in a statement released Wednesday.
NAGOYA â€” Toyota Motor Corp said Thursday it will build a new car plant in Thailand to produce Hilux pickup trucks from early 2007.
The plant in Chachoengsao Province, about 65 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, will have a production capacity of 100,000 units a year. Japan's largest automaker said it will invest 41 billion yen in the facility, which will create up to about 2,000 jobs.
(Source: Japan Today News)
The 2005 Thailand Motor Expo kicked off on December 1, and runs until the 12th. On Friday I made my way to IMPACT Muang Thong Thani with hopes of an enjoyable day. I made use of the free shuttle bus service from Mo Chit BTS station which was easy and painless, although on the bus going to the event the driver insisted on subjecting us to very loud..... music, I suppose you would call it that.
I made use of a voucher from a recent UBC magazine to gain free access to the show, so apart from the journey to Mo Chit Station the event didn't cost me anything. And it's a good thing to because it was a disappointing experience.
According to this breaking news article on the Bangkok Post, Thailand produced its millionth car today. This is the first time this level of output has been achieved in a year in Thailand.
Thailand exports about 40% of the cars produced here, making the country the world's 7th largest car exporter.
As motor makers scramble to establish greater presences in South-East Asia, Thailand has been enjoying more than it's fair share of attention. Peugeot, Ford and Honda have all committed further investment to Thailand in recent weeks.
But Renault's decision to make Malaysia it's hub for the region is a blow to the Thai motor industry. According to Patrick Debrot, Renault vice-president for the Asia-Pacific region, the decision was down to the pick-up-truck nature of the Thai market.
Yet more good news for Thailand's auto sector as Ford announce their plans for growth in the Asian market, and the key role that Thailand will play in their strategy. During a press conference in Thailand Bill Ford Jr., chairman and CEO of America's second-largest auto company stated: "We see that Asia is our next market as all the regions are opening up, and we plan to make Thailand our central hub for ASEAN."
More good news for Thailand and it's quest to become the "Detroit of Asia". I'm not so sure this is such a lofty goal anyway, but it is the term (over)used to describe the Thai auto industry.
One reason for Thailand's success in the auto industry is excise duties! To put it bluntly if you wish to be competitive in Thailand you need to assemble your cars in Thailand to benefit from lower excise duties. Of course lower land prices, cheap labour costs, and other factors come into the equation, but excise rates are obviously designed to "encourage" manufacturers to build in Thailand.
Last week there were rumors that Honda might build Hybrid-technology-powered vehicles in Thailand. Honda has now confirmed the confidence they have in Thailand by committing a further 2.4 billion baht investment here.
Honda is to open an R&D unit in Thailand, creating 120 jobs and increasing their presence in the country. The facility will be responsible for the design and development of auto parts, and vehicles for the Asian, Australian and Indian market.
According to an article in today's Bangkok Post, Honda may be considering building the new 2006 Civic Hybrid here in Thailand. The article (see below) suggests that a Civic Hybrid built in Thailand would benefit from 30% excise rates, rather than the 80% applied to the current Hybrid. And suggests that the price would be around 1.5 million baht as a result.
My maths tells me that it should be around 1.3 million if you simply apply the new excise rate, so perhaps the new Civic will cost more to begin with. 1.3, 1.5 ... it probably makes no difference anyway. Anything over 1 million baht and Thai buyers will start looking at Fortuners, Accords and Camrys in preference. If this car could be priced at or below 1 million, and marketed as at the high end of the mid-sized market, competing with 1.8 liter and even 2.0 liter models, then it might stand a chance of selling in some numbers.
When Ford designed the Focus for the Thai market it had a clever plan in mind. Thailand announced a scheme, whereby cars capable of running on E20 fuel, gasohol with a mix of 80% petrol and 20% ethanol, would be eligible for a reduced excise rate of 20%. Since the standard rate is 30% Ford's strategy should have afforded them a price advantage over rivals.
Toyota is calling for a cut in excise tax on hybrid cars with engines capacities of 3,000cc or greater. Toyota say that this would boost sales.
Although it is possible that sales would increase, it's also possible that Thai consumers will continue to buy the biggest car they can afford. Even if the tax on large Hybrid cars were to be cut, they would still be much more expensive than Thai built SUVs such as the massively popular, and massive Toyota Fortuner, due to the fact that hybrid vehicles have higher production costs. Owners of these thirsty machines probably didn't ask too many questions about fuel economy in the Toyota sales office.
No. Tata Young hasn't asked Thai Rung Union to modify an ISUZU truck for her. But, "I believe" Indian car maker Tata Motors has signed a deal with Thai Rung Union Car (site in Thai) to manufacture vehicles in Thailand.
The deal is good news for Thai Rung Union (TRU), Thailand's largest pickup truck modifier, who have been struggling of late in a very competitive market. Under the deal TRU and Tata will be manufacturing the 207 DI pickup truck in Thailand, for sale in the local market. Thailand is the second largest market for pickup trucks after the US. Under the deal it seems that TRU will have a hand in the redesign of the 207 DI to best fit the Thai market.