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Small eco-cars take centre stage at Bangkok Motor Show

March 27, 2012

BANGKOK, March 27 — As Thailand continues to recover from last year’s devastating floods, the annual Bangkok Motor Show will get under way in its capital this week, with Thai car fans set to get a glimpse of a record number of models for the first time.

The new Mitsubishi Mirage was designed with the needs of countries like Thailand in mind. — Picture courtesy of MitsubishiThe new Mitsubishi Mirage was designed with the needs of countries like Thailand in mind. — Picture courtesy of MitsubishiThailand’s car buyers have faced supply shortages over the past year after the flooding — the worst in 70 years — disrupted the production of major automakers such as Toyota.

This week though, the atmosphere should be bright as the 33rd Bangkok Motor Show opens its doors to the public, with a record number of new cars going on show for Thailand’s increasingly wealthy consumers to get their hands on.

It’s also an opportunity for the rest of the world to see how Thailand is beginning to influence the way we buy cars — a country that’s rapidly urbanising but still developing, it’s a model for automakers keen to make products as attractive as possible for the lucrative Asian and other developing markets.

The new Mitsubishi Mirage, which has launched first at the show, is perhaps the highest-profile example of this, a global compact car designed for all markets, but with the needs of countries like Thailand in mind.

That means a small enough form for built-up cities like Bangkok but large enough to be versatile (somewhere between the Fiat Panda and Ford Fiesta) and a small, low-cost engine which sips fuel at just 3.3l/100km.

It will also be priced from a wallet-friendly 380,000 baht (RM37,600) and have a range of trim levels to ensure it will also sell in countries like Europe.

Suzuki has also launched a Thai-built car in a similar vein called the eco-Swift, while Honda will be promoting its Brio, which launched last year but was severely hit by the floods.

Around 1.7 million car-hungry visitors are expected to visit the show, which opens to the public on March 28 and runs through April 8. — AFP-Relaxnews

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