One week ago I had the chance to stopover in Bangkok Thailand for a few hours on my way from Sydney Australia to Europe. It was the first time I (quickly) visited Bangkok in ten years and the second time ever. One of the perks of visiting the Bangkok airport was to get my hands on local car magazine Formula, the only medium to publish full models sales for Thailand – albeit with a couple of months delay. A more complete Top 95 models ranking for the Jan-April 2015 period has now been posted. My main mission in Bangkok was to find and snap new generation Toyota Hilux Revo, which expectedly has taken the Thai sales charts by storm with over 20.000 sales in just two months…
And lucky I was. I decided to keep it simple and take the Airport Rail Link to its terminal at Phaya Thai, then walk around for 1h30. As soon as I disembarked the train, one shiny new Hilux Revo parked next to me. It was literally one of the first cars I saw in the street and I thought it would be the first of many. Not. It ended up being the only Revo I saw the entire time I snapped pictures in the area. And the first striking impression when stepping foot in Bangkok is that the stats aren’t lying: the streets are packed with Hilux and Isuzu D-Max pickups, for the most part less than 7 years old.
But as it showed in the June sales charts where it ranks 4th overall, the runaway success of this First Half of 2015 is the Honda HR-V. I saw over 15 of them in just 1h30: Honda’s baby SUV is redefining the success parameters for this type of vehicle, selling almost 10 times more than its competitors, the Ford Ecosport and Nissan Juke. Even more so than in Indonesia, China or the rest of South-East China, the Honda HR-V has really struck a chord with Bangkok car buyers. A couple of months back, we reported that the HR-V was the #1 best-selling vehicle in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, well in Bangkok it shouldn’t be too far off the #1 passenger car spot.
Interestingly, I wouldn’t attribute this Bangkok #1 passenger car spot to the Toyota Vios (the #1 nationally), but to its larger counterpart the Toyota Corolla. Even though this Photo Report only displays the multi-coloured taxi versions swarming the streets of the Thai capital, the Corolla also looks like it could be the most popular passenger car choice for private buyers.
Not to worry, the Toyota Vios, Yaris and to a lesser extent the Honda City are also very frequent around the Bangkok area I visited. All the recent sales successes are also very well represented, namely the Honda Jazz and Mazda2, I also spotted a handful of new generation Mazda2 sedans.
Watching the car landscape in Bangkok also offers a fascinating glimpse into the variety of usages pickups have in Thailand. Naked beds are the most common variety, a large part are also covered, either to transport utensils, in effect making it an SUV (see above), or people (see below) with add-ons of very various sizes.
Another very important learning looking at the pickup population in Bangkok is that contrary to perception, if the majority of pickups are 2WD variants used for commercial needs, an increasing part (compared to ten years ago) is clearly recreational. There is a surprisingly large amount of 4WD Hilux TRD or Ford Ranger Wildtrack roaming Bangkok streets.
Finally, another chance spotting: the all-new MG 3 in flashy yellow. Chinese manufacturer MG entered the Thai new car market in 2014 but has only seen its sales rally take off in the past couple of months (totalling 700 year-to-date) with the arrival of the MG 3, currently heavily marketed in Thailand through billboards plastered all through the airport and the Rail Link.
The Photo Report continues below with the remainder of the 20 Bangkok pictures.