Some of the models that are available in Thailand are also imported to Oman and this aspect makes sense for us to visit the Bangkok International Motor Show. Commercially, the motor show venue also does brisk business in terms of domestic sales.
In its 40th edition thirty-three international auto brands participated — Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Mazda, Subaru, and Suzuki represent the Japanese automakers. Hyundai and Kia represent Korean manufacturers, while premium European and US brands included Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Bentley, Chevrolet, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Maserati, McLaren, Porsche, Rolls-Royce and Volvo.
Over 10 new models were launched during the press days including several alternative energy vehicles like EV, Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid, which conform to the local government policy of developing Thailand as the leader of Electric Vehicle manufacturing in Asia.
Isuzu Motors is better known for pick-up trucks and LCVs and had an impressive display. Isuzu also had some bespoke pick-ups which highlighted the fact that lifestyle trucks can be exciting too. The “safety car concept” of its D-Max pick-up was another example of this thought.
In the same vein Mitsubishi also launched its new Triton truck and Chevrolet its second generation Captiva SUV which is actually the China-designed and developed Baojun 530.
As electrification and hybrids begin to make their presence felt, Hyundai showcased its Kona EV SUV and relatively new player for India, MG Motors had an interesting array of models including the GS (Hector in India) and their electric SUV eZS.
Morris Garages (MG) also launched the V80, an 11-seater van rebadged from the Maxus V80. The V80 was originally developed by LDV (Leyland DAF Vans) and Daewoo Motors. It ended up with SAIC through a series of acquisitions.
In the premium brands section from Europe, Audi is heavily promoting its electric arsenal leading with the bi-motor 408hp e-tron model while BMW’s stand attracted visitors with the unveil of its all-new co-developed with Toyota Z4 sports car. Also on display was the BMW 2 Series, the brand’s first front-wheel model (never mind BMW broke its promise on this).
The Z4 clone — Toyota’s Supra may have hardware borrowed from BMW, but its claims the design is proprietary.
Japanese brands which have interest in India included Suzuki which displayed the new Jimny and the refreshed Ciaz sedan. Honda unveiled its latest in hybrid models — the Accord hybrid. It will be powered by either a 1.5-litre turbo inline-4, similar to the Civic RS or an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter with a pair of electric motors for the hybrid version.
The list of concepts and prototypes: Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro, Mazda Kai Concept, and the Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept.
The Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro, albeit in a static show car form. The hypercar, which is powered by a 6.5-litre V12 with KERS is virtually an F1 car with a bodyshell and is limited to 25 examples.
Porsche set the stage for the Asian debut of its iconic 911 sports car. The 8th generation 911 was presented in Carrera S form and finished in yellow. Also on display was the GT3.
Mercedes-Benz presented the S 560 e AMG Premium, a plug-in hybrid under their EQ brand. Maserati came out with yet another refresh to the GranTurismo. Lamborghini’s stand was impressive with the presence of the Aventador SVJ, the current ‘King of the Nürburgring.
This year’s edition saw a third of the total space dedicated to motorcycles.
The 2019 BIMS continues to play a vital role in showcasing South East Asia’s newest motorcycle trends, as well as previewing the newest models to possibly come to the Middle East and other bike-friendly countries like India.
As a two-wheelers’ paradise, Thailand is host to domestic and foreign brands. Even some of the foreign brands like Triumph are now made in that country. Indian brand Royal Enfield has a big following and it had one of the largest displays among other bike or scooter brands. There was also sizable presence of Thailand’s domestic manufacturers as well as customisers.
Ducati’s talking point was the new Multistrada 1260 that with the new Ducati Testastretta DVT 1262 cc engine, the new MTS is now even more pleasurable for everyday use, thanks to the increased torque at low and mid-range engine speeds. Max power output is at 160 PS and 129.5 Nm of torque.
Chennai, India-based Royal Enfield had strong presence at the show where it showcased its range of models and two bespoke models based on the 650cc Interceptor model crafted by local customisers — Zeus Customs and K-Speed Customs. The whole range of REs on display included the recently launched 650 twins.
The Prime Project by Zeus was made in 45 days after the sketch was approved by Royal Enfield. It sports an aggressive cafe-cum-bobber low rider profile.
The Vayu custom motorcycle continues to be a café racer but with a completely different character compared to the stock bike. Also on display was the KX Concept, an 883cc Bobber that was first showcased to the world at the 2018 EICMA Show in Italy that is inspired by the 1938 Royal Enfield motorcycle that was powered by an 1140 cc V-Twin engine, the largest engine from RE at the time. Designing the KX began in April 2018 in India and some work was also done in the UK. Two independent design ideas — neo-classic and futuristic were blended together to create this final concept.
GPX Motorcycles, a Thailand-based motorcycle 12-year-old manufacturer initially produced All Terrain Vehicles, then moved to motocross bikes and now has a complete lineup of motorcycles from everyday workhorses to weekend leisure bikes. On display was a customized version of one of their recently released models, the Legend 200. This one-off features a scrambler/race bike combo finished in full chrome.
The British brand presented its 2019 Scrambler 1200 in XC and XE trim powered by the Bonneville’s liquid-cooled 1,200cc parallel twin motor. Also on display was the recently introduced Speed Twin.
Yamaha had several motorcycles and scooters. Among the key highlights was the next generation model of its supersport offering, the YZF R3, the TyE electric bike concept and an array of urban mobility scooters like the updated Q-Bix.
With the nostalgic trend seems to be going strong, Kawasaki has decided to “revive” a retro model with two versions — Street and Café-Racer. Kawasaki’s usual arsenal of the Z series models in black and green were quite dominating in terms of presence.
Peugeot took the wraps off its Django scooter that will be offered in 3 trims; the Heritage, Evasion, and Sport. Design is said to be inspired by Peugeot sedan cars of circa 1950s. The Heritage trim gets the colour-scheme and body design cues of that era. The Evasion uses a two-tone colours and features a stylish windscreen. The Sport, on the other hand, was inspired by the racing cars of the 50’s, complete with racing numbers and a removable pillion seat for a sportier look.
The Thailand-based company Royal Alloy pays homage to erstwhile Italian Lambretta scooters from the 60s. Its USP is period products infused with modern technology. The range of Royal Alloy vintage period inspired scooters come with 150cc or 180cc single-cylinder four-stroke liquid cooled engines, ABS, which the manufacture claims are Euro 4 certified. Royal Alloys claims they comfortable pass London’s new ULEZ emissions rules. Compared to the original Lambrettas, Royal Alloy models are a little larger and benefit from a more solid feel on the road.
The Italian brand used the venue to promote three models with special offers. Included in the deal were RSV4 1100, Touno V4 1100 and NOS RSV4 RR model. Other brands and products from Piaggio Group included Vespa scootrers and Moto Guzzi motocycles. Piaggo has been operating in Thailand premium since 2017.
BMW had a lot to show off in Bangkok, with a wide array of models, the smallest being the India-made GS310. They also took the wraps off the C 400 X large scooter and the new F850GS 2019 Adventure model with optional Garmin GPS integration.
The K1600 Grand America, BMW’s 1,649cc luxury touring bike featured at the show has a 6-cylinder in-line engine with a top speed of 162 km/h. The bike been launched by the company in two versions – black storm metallic and Austin Yellow metallic and was quite a crowd puller.
On the custom front, K-Speed customs presented the Iron Racer Mark 1 is their latest creation.
China-based Hanway seems to be quite passionate for making quality affordable motorcycles. The company says features like LED lighting, a stainless steel exhaust system, alloy rims, digital speedometer comes standard fitment on all models. Hanway says it emphasises on quality aspects right out of the box and we can wholeheartedly agree with that after seeing them.
The company specialises in small displacement machines. The quality of merchandise seems quite good and the brand is also selling their products in Europe and UK. Most of the designs are neo-retro-influenced, be it cafe racers or street machines or outdoor scramblers and seem to be designed for Europe where there’s no restriction for this particular class of 2-wheelers.
Several models from the line-up that caught our attention in particular was a 125 cc scrambler with trials wheels, dual discs and wider, higher handle bars, the Black Café 125 and Masculine 125. Besides these well-equipped machines, Hanway also offers stripped down RAW 125cc series of motorcycles.
Thailand-based mini-bike maker is a regular at the Bangkok show and this year it brought in its latest creation — a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric) cafe racer. According to locals with whom we were able to interact with, in the grand scheme of things the Stallions brand is little known and seldom recognised. But it has also come under criticism for showcasing designs plagiarised from other brands. The brand offers various motorcycles ranging from 125cc to 400cc.
Another Thailand-based start-up brand which is better known for fabricating motorcycle parts from aircraft-grade billet aluminium. The chromed dual-purpose bike was presented as a concept and is powered by a China-sourced Lifan brand powertrain.
Honda officially unveiled the 2019 CB150R Streetster in Thailand which will sit below the recently launched CB300R in the line-up.
Honda also had a big display limited edition Monkey bikes for the Thai domestic market. Very much like the Super Cub, the Monkey or the Z series came out in the ‘60s and was loved by one and all. Interestingly, the reason why it came to be known as the Monkey was the way people used to look like while riding these bikes.
Displayed by Cub House, a boutique Honda custom shop in Thailand, was this very alluring Super Cub 125 Copper limited edition. Cub House has been making very special versions of Cubs and Monkeys for some time, collaborating with several well-known brands. Also on display was facelifted 2019 Honda CBR 150R fully-faired commuter bike.
However, the highlight at Honda stand was the yesteryear’s bike Honda Super Cub’s 2018 edition 125 cc edition. The bike has been in production since 1958 and in 2017 Honda produced about 100-million of these – which says a lot about its popularity even now. On the specs front it has little to offer as it carries its 1958 model’s influences.
Meanwhile, a boutique Honda custom shop in Thailand, Cub House presented the Super Cub 125 Copper limited edition. Cub House has been making very special versions of Cubs and Monkeys for some time, collaborating with several well-known brands.