Auto makers look to Asean market

By Kingsley Wijayasinha | Source: ANN

While this year’s Bangkok International Motor Show could set a new sales record of 60,000 orders, major auto-makers are not only looking at the Thai market but also all of Asean.

“Asean is such an important growth opportunity for Ford within our Asia-Pacific region,” Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Ford Motor Company, said yesterday.

“Our plan and successful product-led transformation is helping to deliver even more segment-leading vehicles, like the all-new EcoSport.”

Major auto companies are launching models for Thailand as well as other Asean markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Besides the Ford EcoSport, the Toyota Vios, Chevrolet Spin, Honda Accord and Nissan Pulsar are among the models offered in this region.

The EcoSport is an example of Ford’s strategy to enhance its momentum by entering even more volume segments across the region.

Ford expects 60-70 per cent of its sales growth globally this decade to come from Asia and the Pacific, with Asean playing a key role.

The large number of new products is expected to help stimulate the Thai market, despite predictions of a slight decline from last year’s record 1.4 million units.

“We must admit that last year was a golden year for the Thai auto industry,” said Prachin Eamlumnow, the organiser of the Bangkok Motor Show. “This is another chapter in Thailand’s automotive history, and it stems from various positive factors including the government’s first-car-buyer scheme.

“There were effects carried over from the flood in late 2011, which increased demand for new vehicles, especially pickup trucks.

“Automobile companies in Thailand launched a large number of new models including eco-cars, small passenger cars and pickup trucks that were in the government’s projects. They enabled the industry to achieve record sales last year, and into this year,” he said.

In the luxury car segment, Mercedes-Benz is expected to win customers for the new E-Class, while BMW is highlighting the 3 Series hybrid. Lexus is launching its IS luxury compact, which is also available as a hybrid.

And at the top of the spectrum is the Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase, priced at a whopping 42.5 million baht (US1.4 million).

Concept vehicles on display include the Mitsubishi GR-HEV and G4, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Nissan Ellure and Toyota FUN Vii and FCV-R.

The event goes until April 7 at Muang Thong Thani.

“Although in 2013 the market may not be as strong as last year, we believe that the Thai auto industry will move ahead, since auto companies have been working hard since the start of the year with new-model launches,” Prachin said.

“Competition in the eco-car market remains strong. Mitsubishi will exhibit the G4 eco-car concept at the motor show, while Toyota’s eco-car is expected to be introduced later this year.”

The Vios will attract hordes of customers because of its high popularity, he said.

A total of 36 carmakers are taking part in the event, along with seven motorcycle and 230 accessories companies.

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