Not Just Another Motor Show

POSTED BY Tony Yew ON 06 November 2015

Auto shows reflect huge strides and a widening gap between car makers and client-nations


I got back from the Tokyo Motor Show early on the first day of November and from what I saw, it showed the growing gap between car making conglomerates and their client-nations.

The major car companies are displaying prototype self-driving cars. Mitsubishi and Honda, among others, provided five plug-in hybrids and Evs with autonomous driving to give taxi rides on a roof top course.

Unlike the Tokyo Motor Show in the 80’s and 90’s when new cars were launched with great fanfare and high-kicking dancing girls, this show was focussed on concept cars and hydrogen fuel cell technology being pioneered by the car makers.

Which brings us back to Malaysia and the Auto Show that the NST Cars, Bikes & Truck organised, starting with the first Auto Show in 2010.

In the first decade of this millenium, the trend was for the international circuit of auto shows, to feature new model launches.

So the Tokyo Motor Show would feature Toyota launching a few new world cars; so too would Honda, Nissan and those who could afford it.

The same scene would replay itself at the Frankfurt Motor Show where Mercedes-Benz and BMW and Volkswagen would vie to launch the most significant model or stage the most spectacular launch. When a car maker’s launch was well received and acclaimed by world publicity, then there would be plenty of chest thumping by managers in the inner circle.

When Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia started to grow their automotive industries, there was a collateral growth in vendors upstream and downstream.

One of the downstream vendors was the advertising, marketing and promotions industry. We would like to talk specifically about the automotive exhibition industry.

In Thailand with a population of 67 million and about eight million in Bangkok and sales of about 1 million vehicles (mostly pick-up trucks), there are two auto shows a year. The first show of the year, the Bangkok International Motor Show in March, is organised by the GPI publishing group founded by Dr Prachin Eumlumnow.

The second show is organised by International Media Consultants, another publishing group, founded and owned by Kwanchai Phatphatpong. The first day of this show is in December.

Both these captains of the autoshow business are friendly competitors and they honour each other’s shows by attending the official openings as VIP guests.

The situation in Indonesia changed dramatically this year when the organisers of the IIMS which had been doing its show for many years unhindered, lost the support of its patron, the Indonesian association of car makers, the Gaikindo or Gabungan Indastri Kereta indonesia.

In the final break of links, the Gaikindo partnered with another company to organise the 2015 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show or GIAS.

It was held at the shiny new Indonesian Convention and Exhibition centre in BSD, a young suburban commercial centre 30 km west of central Jakarta.

But what was surprising was that the GIAS and the IIMS were scheduled to run concurrently. It seems this repeated itself in Makassar where both organisations held their motor shows on the same week.What a waste of resources and how unrelenting can egoism be.

In Malaysia’s case, CBT has held its Auto Show annually since 2010 and the show was focussed on engaging with readers and car buyers, especially those who might like to be given an independent opinion about cars.

“Independent opinion about cars” … wow, that sounds so pretentious. And it would be if it wasn’t for what we at the NST Cars, Bikes & Trucks had been doing for the past 13 years.

In 2002, our first year of organising the Car of the Year, we were a panel of professional automotive journalists and members of the professional community who adjudged that the Perodua Kelisa was the Car of the Year.

Every year since 2002, our panel has given its opinion on the overall best new Car of the year (CotY), as well as the best family sedan, the best executive car etc.

About six years ago, a senior colleague said that we should organise a motor show to exhibit all the potential winners under one roof.

To educate the visitors and future buyers, the cars with their specifications and price were displayed in the categories they belonged to. Some of the more competitive car companies also provided test drives in the perimeters of he show ground.

To emphasise the spirit of competition, visitors were invited to nominate their candidate for Car of the Year and winners stood to win prizes.

We continue this tradition at the NST MAI ASEAN Autoshow and we have enhanced it this year with prizes for those who test drive a car.

One of the traditions of the NST Autoshow is the Classic Car show. After a hiatus of two years, we’ve reviving the show in partnership with the Malaysia Singapore Vintage Car Register (MSVCR). This venerable motor club was started in 1955 and is the only motor club that is recognised in both Malaysia and Singapore.

For this first year of partnership, we’ve been honoured by the Sultan of Selangor’s acceptance of our invitation to display Tuanku’s motorsports enthusiasm.

This being the MSVCR’s 60th anniversary and Tuanku’s 70th birthyear, we in the NST Cars, Bikes & Trucks felt that it would be appropriate to organise a Classic Car show that would display the Sultan of Selangor’s motorsports activity.

Not many know it but the Sultan is one of the most enthusiastic motorsports royals in the arena. His first recorded event was in 1957 when he was the young prince, the Raja Muda.

You will see in the show some of the cars that Tuanku rallied – one of his first rally cars is a MG Midget J2 of 1937 vintage.

Then there is the Ford Model B (Tudor) in which Tuanku did the Peking-Paris, and a Chevrolet Fangio. His latest rally was the Road to Mandalay this year which he entered with a Jaguar XK FHC (Fixed Head Coupe).

The Sultan is also a Jaguar fan, and in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Jaguar, he has selected his collection of XK models for display. You will see some of the most exquisite cars in the world, the XK120, the XK 140 and the XK 150. The 150 in the XK 150 means 150 mph.

Past winners of COTY are:
2002  –       Perodua Kelisa
2003  –       Volvo XC90
2004  –       BMW 530d
2005  –       Mercedes-Benz CLS
2006  –       Honda Civic
2007  –       Mitsubishi Lancer 2.0GT
2008  –       Mazda 6
2009  –       Peugeot 308 Turbo
2010  –       Volkswagen Passat
2011  –       Peugeot RCZ
2012  –       Ford Ranger 2.2 XLT
2013  –       Volkswagen Golf GTi
2014  –       Honda City


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