11 July 2024

What do mobile toilets, mobile homes, food stalls and camping gear have in common?  The quick answer is that they are all vehicles.

At one of Thailand’s major auto shows, the Thailand International Motor Expo 2023, which opens today (November 30) and runs until December 11 at Challenger, Impact Muang Thong Thani, several carmakers will be showing how their vehicles can be used in ways other than merely for transport.

Suzuki is collaborating with building materials retailer Boonthavorn in turning its small truck into a mobile toilet and dressing room featuring a dressing table, a shower and a toilet. The idea was conceived to take account of the needs of female artists, actors and actresses, models, or even female politicians who have to travel nationwide, sometimes to remote areas with limited facilities. Having a mobile toilet and dressing room can provide them with greater comfort and safety for those inevitable stops en route.

Tata Motors, meanwhile, demonstrates how its mini trucks can help sellers start their own business. The pastel-coloured food truck is just big and flexible enough flexible for a person who wants to start a food and beverage business or sell other products at any of the outdoor and weekend markets mushrooming all over the country.

EV car on display//Photo by Kanokchan Patanapichai

Mobile homes are increasingly popular thanks to the glamping trend which has taken Thais by storm. While Toyota showcases its mobile home, other Japanese, European and even Chinese carmakers have decorated their vehicles with accessories that support the trend. At almost every booth, visitors will see at least one car with a roof rack stacked with camping gear including different types of tents and ladders, as carmakers try to help visitors imagine how the vehicle fits their modern lifestyle.

Luxury cars at Thailand Motor Expo 2023.//Photo by Kanokchan Patanapichai

Another trend and one which no visitor can escape is the electric car. Tesla, which created the first big EV buzz, is joining the show for the first time. Chinese brands like Changan, MG, Neta, Aion, GWM and Wuling are all presenting their electric passenger cars and trucks. European brands like Mercedes-Benz, Lotus, BMW, Volvo, Maserati, and Porsche, however, are following perhaps a safer path, showcasing a good mix between EV and internal combustion vehicles.

Activity corner at Motor Expo _Photo//y Kanokchan Patanapichai

In the EV space, apart from design, all brands are competing to promote the same key messages – how far their vehicle can travel on one charge and how fast they can go from 0-100 kilometres per hour. Some brands are trying to talk about other features, like durability  and ability to travel in extreme conditions like 1-metre deep water or a desert. Whatever they say about their vehicles, it’s really all about experiences rather than technical and engineering facts.

While many automakers are focusing on EVs, quite a few Japanese brands, like Honda and Nissan, are confirming their position in the market by offering a practical choice during the transition –  hybrid technology.

Antique car on display//_Photo by Kanokchan Patanapichai

Home on wheel//Phot by Kingsley Wichayasingha

Given the demand for efficient and comfortable transport, cars today are an integral part of our lives. And, with the help of technology, they are also evolving into a home, albeit a temporary one, away from home.