With 2008 drawing to an end, it's time to start having a look at what we can expect in 2009. The Thai car scene was quite tame in 2008, with only a few all-new models finding their way into showrooms. The most exciting of these being the Honda City! Enough said.
But looking forward to 2009, let's start with a look at the 2009 Nissan Teana!
Finally, Nissan has joined the 4x2 that looks just like a 4x4 pickup gang. The Nissan Navara Calibre goes head on with the Toyota Vigo Prerunner, Mitsubishi Triton Plus, Isuzu Hi-Lander, and all the other 4x2 in the guise of a 4x4 offerings out there.
The concept is simple. You take the 4x4 truck and you remove 4x4, put in the lower spec engine and offer it only with a manual transmission. Then you market it by making it look like you did things the other way around, showing that you raised the 4x2 truck, stuck on bigger wheels, widened the arches, and added other value.
The Calibre comes in King Cab and Double Cab variants, costing THB 639,000 and THB 715,000 respectively. They both come with the 2.5 litre 144 PS version. The 4x4 has the more powerful 174 PS engine.
Chevrolet just unveiled the Orlando at the Paris Motor Show last week, and it is one of the cars debuted that looks like it could have a future here in Thailand.
The Orlando is a 7-seat people mover, crossover, SUV, small 4-wheel drive with no aspirations for off-roading type car. It's actually very similar both in form and function to the Honda Crossroad.
Honda Thailand should be very satisfied with how well received the new 2009 Honda City has been. With over 4,500 units sold in the first 2 weeks on the market, this City is proving to be very popular.
Predictably, the V and SV models are the bigger sellers, with 80% of sales distributed between these higher spec models, and the S taking up the other 20%. So, some people can still do without airbags, ABS, EBD and BA.
Honda had prepared around 4,000 units in time for the launch, but don't see any difficulty in delivering the additional 500 sales on time.
The last time I posed a story on the Mitsubishi Lancer was over a year ago. Back then the Lancer was already an old and tired platform, screaming out to be replaced.
The Honda Civic, Toyota Altis, Chevrolet Optra, Mazda3, and Ford Focus, all make the Lancer a very poor looking option in this segment of the market.
Mitsubishi have been using a combination of keen pricing, and a 5-year-warranty period to extend the shelf-life of the Lancer, well beyond it's actual sell-by-date.
Most recently, Mitsubishi Thailand has started to offer a CNG version of the Lancer at no extra cost to the consumer. This sounds like a good deal, and with prices starting at THB 694,000, this could actually be considered good value for a 1.6 litre Lancer. Good, if you don't mind driving around in 9-year-old technology.
This is the first time I get to write about the new Chevrolet plug-in hybrid, as there is finally a Thai connection to the story.
According to the source, GM could bring the Chevrolet Volt to Thailand as early as 2011. The decision to bring the new car to Thailand is not all that surprising, and could eventually pave the way for local assembly in Thailand.
What is this Volt thing?
Unless you've been sleeping under a rock, it's unlikely that you haven't already heard about the Chevrolet Volt. If you simply google the word "volt" you'll get some indication about how important the Volt has become.
Honda finally sorted out their insurance and let me have a go in the new 2009 Honda City. The test drive run was a short one, less than 5 km, but long enough to get a feel for the car.
As always, this sort of test drive report is in no way a substitute for your own test drive experience. That said, here are my thoughts having driven the City, including a comparison to its closest rival..... The Vi.... I mean the Jazz.
Bangkok, Thailand – September 1, 2008 – Mazda Sales Thailand launched great customer appreciation “M Day” campaign to ignite the passive automobile market over the recent months. The once-a-year campaign, available at 94 Mazda showrooms nationwide, offers more than baht 100,000 worth of customer special offer. For BT-50 offers one Bt 50,000 fuel coupon, a free 1-year full coverage insurance and 24-hour roadside assistance service for up to 3 years.
This is a quick report on my first experience with the all-new 2009 Honda City. I will have to wait until next week to actually drive the car, just as all other ordinary people in Thailand who are looking forward to their test drive, but I have had a chance to look at the new City up close, get behind the wheel and push, pull, wiggle, open, close, and slam, everything that could be pushed, pulled, wiggled, opened, closed or slammed.
So, I'd like to share some notable observations with you.
If you check through the news postings for the last few weeks, you'll find that more than a fair share of them are relating to the 2009 Honda City. This is partly because there is virtually nothing else interesting happening in the Thai motoring industry right now. But the fact still remains that the City is a massively-important car for Honda.
Honda are building up for the Thai launch of the all-new 2009 Honda City with a teaser video available through their City micro-site.
The video details a launch event between 12th and 14th September at Siam Paragon, although the official launch is still set for 10th September.
According to Honda Thailand, this will also be the world debut for the new City.Click to view the video.
PTT have a new category of fuel listed: E85. The new 85% ethanol 15% petrol blend will be THB 20.19 per litre as of tomorrow (29-Aug-2008). This makes the new fuel THB 7.20 cheaper than E20.
The big question is where are the cars? Despite the eagerness to produce and supply E85, flex-fuel vehicles are still not here. The Thai government are currently working on ways to entice automakers into bringing vehicles with E85 technology to Thailand.