Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thailand's Subaru importer expects to double sales to 180 cars

SANTAN SANTIVIMOLNAT

Motor Image Subaru Co, the local authorised Subaru importer and distributor, expects sales to more than double this year.

Shrugging aside the uncertain political and economic outlook, Motor Image, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Tan Chong International Ltd, plans to introduce more new models at the end of this year to increase its imported car share in the Thai market, said general manager Apichai Dhammasirarak.

The new models to be launched at the year-end Bangkok Motor Expo will include the new Impreza sedan, the all-new Forester SUV and seven-seat Exiga multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).

Motor Image began its business in Thailand 10 years ago but strong sales just emerged last year.

It sold about 90 cars last year, a remarkable sales increase for Subaru after the new Impreza five-door hatchbacks were launched. Women liked the new look while the prices were cut to attract a wider market.

The Impreza hatchback with a 1.5- litre engine retails at 1.12 million baht for a manual gearbox and 1.17 million baht for an automatic. A two-litre engine retails at 1.345 million baht for a manual gearbox and 1.395 million baht for an automatic.

The hatchback with a turbocharged engine was priced at 2.42 million baht for the WRX performance version and 3.95 million baht for the STI version.

Sales of both Impreza hatchbacks accounted for 70% of Motor Image's sales last year while the remainder were for the Legacy sedan and sport utility vehicle (SUV) and the Forester SUV.

Mr Apichai said sales are projected to more than double to 200 units this year, aided by the launch of new models at the end of this year. Sales in the first eight months total 120 units.

"We did not expect such strong demand for the new Impreza last year, so our backorders ran a few months long," said Mr Apichai.

The company will keep their stock in place to prepare for rising demand when the new models launch.

Subaru changed to a subtle look to appeal to a wider market, especially females, with resounding success. In addition, a new Subaru showroom on Serithai Road in Bangkok boosted customer confidence that it will have a permanent presence in Thailand.

Apart from Thailand, Motor Image has showrooms in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan.

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