ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
March 29, 2008
The entry of the Naza Forza, another Malaysian-made car, into Thailand saw Proton Savvy, which made its debut late last year, lose its position as the most price-competitive car on the road in Thailand.
The Forza, a 1.1-litre compact with manual transmission, sports a price tag of 349,000 baht ($11,109), almost 50,000 baht cheaper than the Savvy. The model from Malaysia’s homegrown assembler Naza Group, first launched in Malaysia as Sutera in 2006, was introduced to Thai motorists at the Bangkok International Motor Show which runs from March 28 through April 6.
Thailand’s Yontrakit Kia Motors is the authorised distributor of Naza as well as Kia cars. Sathit Techalapamnouy, the company’s managing director, said the company was impressed with Naza Group's achievement in Malaysia and decided to bring in the Naza Forza.
"When we saw Proton coming into Thailand, we approached Naza to tap the potential here. Being the third biggest vehicle leader in Malaysia, we are confident of Naza and its products," he was quoted as telling Malaysian national news agency Bernama at the motor show.
However, only manual transmission cars are being made available for the initial phase as the group was also importing from Malaysia the 1.1-litre automatic Kia Picanto, which is priced at 449,000 baht.
The Naza Forza is based on a Chinese car called the Hafei Lobo and was developed by Naza with an investment of $62.7 million.
Prior to Savvy's entry, the cheapest car was the Toyota Vios priced at almost 500,000 baht. Sathit said the company hoped to sell about 200 cars at the motor show and between 100 and 200 each a month at its 34 showrooms.
"We target smaller volume because Thai market is geared more towards automatic transmissions, with almost 95 percent of the cars on the road in that segment. But we hope to attract buyers who are concerned with the high oil price now," he said.
The company, which distributes cars from seven different manufacturers including BMW, Audi, Kia and Citroen, plans to bring in more models developed by the Naza Group.