Readers' Submissions

Cars And Prices In Thailand

  • Written by BAH
  • April 25th, 2019
  • 4 min read


I took a trip to Thailand for the 4 weeks mid-March to mid-April this year, 2019. This was not my first trip, felt like my thirtyfirst (don’t quote me). Started going there in 2005, been there every year since, some years a couple or more times, at least three of those times for 6 months. So, I like the place, but I’m scared to death of dogs. This time I saw hardly any dogs. That helped me feel fairly comfortable, and I imagined that Thai people must have taken a step forward in that direction. Or maybe it was just a case of not venturing far into rural Thailand this time, because I don’t believe they have taken any such step. Anyway, I had three sleeps in BKK to acclimatise then straight up to Korat, where I spent most of my time – visiting my lady friend. She’s a person with her own money, and wants to buy herself a new car.

This caught my interest ‘cos I’m always interested in cars. Cars and their prices are the subject of this sub. So we headed off to a Honda dealer to look at possible models. Her main interest was a hatchback Civic – quite a large car these days, relatively large anyways – visibly larger than her current drive – an old Civic. The hatch is a nice looking car (I told her, but actually it’s ugly) with modern ‘exaggerated’ styling (my take on the current crop of vehicles, all trying to look different). And the price – now this is where things got really interesting for me. Quoted price 1,200,000 baht. I thought, that sounds like a lot, and indeed on whipping out my trusty electronic communication device and hitting the XE currency app I typed in the 1.2 mill and got … $AU52,677 . For a Honda Civic? Looked that model up in Aus and got a max price of around $AU33,590 (there is a Type R in Aus which tops out at $50,000, but this is not the same car I saw in Thailand). So we’re seeing a massive premium paid in Thailand. Remember that these cars are the same specification and Hondas sold in Aus are made side by side with Hondas sold in Thailand on the same assembly line. Thought: this is crazy, how can it be?

It happened that the BKK motor show was on during my stay, so I tripped down to BKK to go to the show (and visit a mate) and checked on a number of car prices while at the show. Came away more than astonished! A few examples show why.

My son in Aus owns a Mazda CX5 – I’ll start with that. The price quoted in BKK – 1,560,000 baht = $AU68,541. Top price I could find on internet search in Aus – $50,630. Massive difference.

 

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Next, The Suzuki Swift GLX 1.2L CVT in Thailand is 629,000 baht = $AU27,960. In Aus highest price I could find for a CVT equipped car was $18,990, although it was a GL trim level. Say less than $20,000 for the same trim level. Very much cheaper in Aus.

 

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A car my friend also considered is the Toyota C-HR. Price in Thailand 1,039,000 baht (a Hybrid is also available there at a relatively small premium). Not sure what model the sticker showed. That equals $AU45,662. Price check in Aus shows the most expensive model, CVT, AWD costs $35,290. Again, very much cheaper in Aus.

 

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And onto the Ford Mustang. Wow, this is incredible. Price for the 4 cylinder fastback model in Thailand is 3,649,000 baht. This equals $AU160,314. Jesus wept! Price I found in Aus was $52,990. As I said, Wow! . . . Side note here. A V8 model was on the floor with the engine hood up – it’s a big hood, wide and long, hinged right at the rear extremity, and for that price you don’t even get gas struts to lift it – DIY, and support it with one hand while you find the hole for the bit of bent rod with the other hand. Bloody’ell.

 

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Another example of really outrageous pricing in Thailand was the Suzuki Jimny. This is a great little vehicle, and perhaps a bit small for Thai tastes. What I mean is that size is very important to the Thai buyer, hence the most popular type of vehicles sold there (once out of BKK) are Toyota Hilux variants (called Vigo and Revo), Ford Rangers, D-Max Izuzu and the equivalent Mitsubishi. Anyway back to the Suzuki, recently introduced in both Thailand and Australia. Asking price in Thailand 1,650,000 baht. Equals $AU72,498. WOW! Price I could find in Aus was $25,990. OMG. I thought “they’ll never sell at that price”. Wrong. My friend checked and it turned out that the Jimny was a trial import of 90 vehicles. ALL had been pre-sold!

 

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My lady friend is an accountant and familiar with taxes, including import and export taxes, said that these prices reflected government policy which classes cars as ‘luxury goods’ and taxes accordingly, different tax rates being applied depending on many factors including where they are made, engine size, type of vehicle etc.

I point out that Aus prices quoted were the highest I could find for the equivalent model. Some may vary, different trim and equipment levels will make prices different, but even if my prices in Aus are 5% or even 10% too low, the margins remain extraordinary. The Thai prices I quote are taken directly from stickers on the car windows at the show.

I wonder: if the Thai car buyer knew about the massive disparity in prices when compared to the prices that “rich” foreigners pay, would that be a kicker for the great uprising? Ha ha.

So there you go, if you’re a foreigner and looking to buy a new vehicle in Thailand, you better make sure you don’t check the price in your home country. That’s gonna make you cry!

The author of this article can be contacted at : [email protected]