Auto Exports Grow by 47.6% in 2005

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.

Which Sports Car Are You?

I'm a Honda S2000!

You live on the edge, and you live for the adrenaline rush. You don't need luxuries, snob appeal, or superfluous gadgets. You put your top down, get your motor revving, and take all the curves that life throws at you at full speed. So what if you spin out occasionally?

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Trendy, Groovy Toyota Yaris

Yaris Image

It's been a long time coming, but finally we have an alternative to the Honda Jazz in the form of the Toyota Yaris. Unveiled in Thailand on the 20th January, the Yaris should have Honda worried, as around 60% of their Thai sales come from the Jazz.

As usual Toyota have managed to find a disturbingly sad caption for the launch of the new car. This time "Be Groovy" is the best the Toyota marketing team could come up with, and the press release managed to use the word "trendy" a couple of times, which seems to be a word which is erm... trendy in Thailand at the moment.

Don't Drink Drive!

The Bangkok Post has a timely article asking people to "Drive safely and don't drink".

Statistics for road deaths in Thailand are shocking, but if you live in Thailand, you will probably not be surprised to know that the WHO figures have placed Thai roads as the 6th most deadly in the world. Around 14 thousand people die on the roads in Thailand each year, with over 1 million people suffering injuries as a result of road accidents annually. 80% of these accidents are related to drink driving.

In her article, Ploenpote Atthakor correctly points out that drink-driving accidents are not mistakes, but crimes. In the period from 29th December to 4th January the Thai government has set a target of 456 deaths!

Toyota to Build New Plant in Thailand

NAGOYA — 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)

Server Problems

Over the last few days the site has been down many times. This is due to problems with the server the site is hosted on. Hopefully these issues have been resolved. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Hit-and-run Death Linked to Thai Woman

Thailand's roads rank as the 6th most dangerous in the world. There are numerous factors that contribute to massive annual death tolls on Thai roads. On November 26th one potential contributor was in Japan overstaying her visa and driving without a driving license.

After she ignored a red light and with the police in chase, she proceeded to run over a 59-year-old man before crashing into 3 other vehicles at a intersection and then fled the scene. She was caught when police identified her by her cell-phone which was left in the car.

Apparently she claimed that she fled the police because she was afraid of being caught with no license and for overstaying her visa.

King's Car Runs on Palm Oil

Thailand, along with the rest of the world, is starting to face up to the fact that oil will not last much longer. Estimates put the end of oil anywhere between 25 and 50 years from now. But the time frame in which oil will run out is not important to know. Oil is getting harder to find and demand is rising, pushing prices ever higher.

Thailand is reacting to the problem now as it is forced to do something to attempt to reduce energy spending and develop programs to make Thailand more self-sufficient when it comes to energy. Gasohol 95 and 91 are at least a start on the road to providing sustainable alternatives. But there doesn't seem to be a lot of imagination or innovation being put to use, and it will take more than blending some ethanol into petrol to solve the problem.

Report - Thailand Motor Expo 2005

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.

Toyota Belta Points to 2006 Soluna Vios

Update : New Vios spyed in Bangkok! We were right about the car, but it has taken much longer for the Belta to make its way to Thailand than we expected.
Update 2: All new Vios is released. It's here!

Toyota Belta Small Image

Toyota have just released a new compact sedan in Japan. Belta, according to Toyota's website, means "Beauty", and while I don't doubt their Italian language skills I would argue that the Italians do know more about making cars that could be described as beautiful. Looking at the images of the Belta, "beauty" would not be a word that would enter my head.

Ford to Show 4-Trac Concept in Thailand First

4-trac Image

Thailand is the second largest market for pickup trucks after the US! Sometimes this fact does damage to the country's efforts to draw in manufacturers like Renault who don't deal in pickups and so look at a 50% smaller market for their cars. But Thailand's love of the truck does more good than harm in attracting big automakers like Ford, who have recently named Thailand as their hub for the ASEAN region.

Mazda Customer Priorities

Mazda 3

Before creating the 3, Mazda went out and asked their customers for help in defining the car. They asked what the global market wanted in a car and then went to work creating a car to match those demands. Sounds good right? This should mean that the resulting car will meet the needs of the target market.

Well, it would work out like that if they asked their customers rather than asking school kids, as seems to be the case.

Thailand Passes 1 Million Mark for Year

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.

Malaysia "Pick-Up" Renault

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.

Thai Ethanol Strategy - Not Optional

Earlier this year the Thai government recognized that something needed to be done about the fuel situation. Thailand had long subsidized motor fuel to keep the cost artificially low. Finally, rising global oil prices forced the government to take action.

It would be easy to criticize the government for failing to take action sooner but neighbors Indonesia, and more recently Burma, left it later, and were forced to take more dramatic measures leading to public demonstrations of frustration as prices at the pumps soared overnight. Since Thailand acted sooner, a more measured approach was possible with prices risen gradually.

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