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Land Rover
04 Feb 13 04:01
2012 Thailand Int'l MOTOR EXPO
John K. Lindgren
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Kickin' the Tyres and Slammin' the Doors Again! At Thailand International MOTOR EXPO 2012

Sparkling new dinky “Eco-cars”, utilitarian pick-ups, über luxury imports, wacky concept vehicles and big-macho bikes galore

The 29th annual edition of Thailand International MOTOR EXPO opened its doors on the 29th of November at 10:00 hours. Location: Impact Muang Thong Thani, Challenger Hall, Nonthaburi district, northern Bangkok suburbia. For those driving their almost old cars the venue provided ample indoor parking for 2,500 cars.

Last years Thailand Int'l Motor Expo was a tad gloomy affair due to the grande deluge of 2011 when massive flood waters forcibly shut down many automotive manufacturing and supply plants in Bangkok and Ayudhaya province. The 2012 automotive expo cum sales event kicked off full throttle and top gear. This year the sales of passenger and pickup vehicles assembled in the kingdom hit a all time high of two million units plus 2.5 million motorbikes.

For the buyers and sellers the 12-day Motor Expo serves as the last mega car-buying event of the year, and car companies usually launch all-new models and offer highly attractive campaigns in order to maximise sales before the year ends. For the consumer its a great chance to check out all the cars, pickups, motorbikes and accessories (aftermarket stuff) under one roof in air conditioned comfort.

A total of 38 car manufacturers and nine motorcycle brands took part in the 2012 Motor Expo. The order books were filled with circa 55,000 bookings. More than THB 50 billion changed hands during this annual auto, bike and aftermarket event which pulled in 1.6 million domestic and international visitors.

Before the show Mr Kwanchai Paphatpong, president and chief executive officer of Inter-Media Consultant Co., Ltd. and organising chairman of the Thailand International Motor Expo said that the event will feature four future concepts: convenience, efficiency, safety and Eco-friendliness, all in harmony with the theme: "Meet Tomorrow's Cars Today".

Among the many brands participating in the show were the European premium coupés, saloons and SUVs from Audi, BMW, Citroen, Ford, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Peugeot, Skoda, Volkswagen and Volvo.

The Japanese were again dominating the show with passenger cars and pickup trucks including Honda, Isuzu, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Mitsuoka, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki and the perennially strong market leader Toyota. The South Koreans were present with Kia, Hyundai and Ssangyong. And the new kid on the block, the People's Republic of China displayed the sturdy, compact DFSK 1.3 liter minivan from Dong Feng Motors.

The motorcycle brands showed off their big, fat bikes in style included the Italian Benalli BJ 600GS and the Ducati Monster 795. The Japanese bikes put Honda 2012 CBR Fireblade, Kawasaki Concours, and Suzuki GSX-R on their stands and the iconic Brit bike Triumph Bonneville T100 with its retro timeless looks was also a showstopper.

Some of the highlights of the 2012 Motor Expo.

Production vehicles: Honda Brio Amaze
Honda's latest Eco-car (the 10th model that the company has launched this year) comes in a four-door body style and is powered by the same 90hp 1.2-liter “eco-car” engine as the Brio hatchback delivering 20 kilometer per liter. Prices depending on trim level range from THB 454,000 to THB 521,000.

Range Rover
The Range Rover has long been considered the most capable premium production vehicle in the world, and this is the fourth-generation model. Land Rovers luxury new flagship has an all-aluminum monocoque structure, which is a first for an SUV body that helps to reduce the vehicle's weight by 420kg compared to its predecessor. The 4.4-liter V-8 turbo diesel engine produces 339hp.

Subaru XV (Pronounced “Exx-Vee” not Fifteen!)
Subaru has finally launched the XV crossover, which is based on the Impreza sedan. The XV is manufactured in Malaysia and exported to Thailand under the AFTA agreement, in order to keep prices competitive. The XV is powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC Subaru boxer (horizontally opposed) engine mated to a new CVT automatic transmission.

The new A-Class drew a large crowd, new and younger customers to the large Mercedes-Benz booth. The top-of-the-line A250 AMG Sport, priced at THB 2.49 million, powered by a 211hp turbocharged 2.0-liter engine 350Nm of torque or pulling power. Acceleration from 0-100km/h 6.6 seconds and top speed 240km/h. The normally aspirated, non turbo charged A180, meanwhile, gets 122hp from a 1.8-liter engine and is priced at THB 1.89 million.

… and the concept cars:

Hyundai HED-8
The HED-8 is the latest hybrid concept car from Hyundai, designed at the European Research & Development Center of Hyundai in Germany. It was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show. The sporty interior comes with four bucket seats and a cockpit inspired layout of instruments, controls. This prototype is a compact modern luxury 4-seater sports coupe. It features LED headlights and large sports doors that swing open upwards, in “gull-wing doors” style. The HED-8's 1.0-liter three-cylinder petrol engine produces a maximum power of 61hp plus another 109hp from an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. In gasoline-electric hybrid mode, the HED-8 has a range of 700km with CO2 emissions of only 45g/km. Meanwhile, the range in EV mode is a respectable 120km. The top speed of the Hyundai hybrid concept vehicle is 145 km/h.

Mazda Shinari
The Shinari is a 4-door sports concept sedan in the style of a coupe, developed under the "Kodo - Soul of Motion" design concept.

The Shinari was first shown to the media at the Design Forum in Milan in 2010, and made its first public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2011. The Mazda engineers dedicated exhausting hours in designing the vehicle, which is "influenced by the power that exists in nature, the graceful movements of wild animals, the swift movement of the cheetah while pouncing on a prey, and the fast and powerful movements of a kendo fighter".

Finally, the pretties. The permanent fixtures at each and every automobile show in Thailand strutting their stuff at every automotive event. And everybody loves them. In Europe you saw them in the F-1 paddocks and on the podiums often with Mumm magnum champagne bottle always scantily clad sometimes in hot pants.

In the United Kingdom, the young ladies were called “pit babes”. In continental Europe they are known as “grid” or “pit girls” while in the car-crazy South Korea they are called “racing girls”.

In the kingdom of Thailand, they are effectionally known as the “pretties”. To became a “pretty”, or presenter the selection is tough. University level education, English conversation and basic dancing skills, too. Not only the looks. From day one the 2012 MotorExpo army of pretties were out in full force on the super brightly lit stages with bold new choreographies, Lady Gaga hairdos and body microphones - presenting the new cars on the podiums.

Cars and pretties are part and parcel of this successful year end sales extravaganza which this year again, proved to be a huge success for buyers as well as sellers.

Happy 2013 Motoring!

Bon Voyage

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