After a highly successful year amidst the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, BMW Group Thailand is taking a head start in 2021 by launching a second batch of new models from the BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad brands.
They include the BMW X7 xDrive30d and 330Li, MINI Cooper S Countryman and John Cooper Works GP Inspired Edition, and the R 18 Classic First Edition motorcycle. Last month BMW had already launched its first product of the year – the updated 5 Series, available in diesel and PHEV versions.
But the German automaker also has something cooking behind the scenes. In less than a month, BMW will make an important announcement regarding a new model from its high-performance M sub-brand that, according to rumors, could be assembled locally in Thailand for the first time in history.
Asked to comment on speculations that BMW plans to assemble an M model here, BMW Group president Alexander Baraka, presiding over BMW Group Thailand’s annual press conference in Bangkok today, replied, “We neither confirm nor deny the rumors.”
A smiling Baraka added that BMW will make an announcement regarding the issue “within the next two to three weeks”.
Currently in the Thai market, BMW offers the M2 CS, M5, M8, X3 M and X4 M models, all imported in CBU (Completely Built-Up) form, and suffering from high import duties. The 2021 M3 and M4 models are not present in the current list, as they have yet to be officially launched in Thailand. Another worthy contender is the lower-priced M340i, which has become a popular choice among BMW enthusiasts over true M models.
Arch rival Mercedes-Benz has had tremendous success in the past two years with various locally-assembled Mercedes-AMG models, which are sold at significantly lower pricing than the corresponding CBU version. Similarly, a locally-assembled M model will be more affordable and help BMW gain more customers.
Last year the BMW Group sold 12,426 BMW and MINI vehicles in Thailand, edging past Mercedes-Benz for the first time in decades. Sales of BMW Motorrad were also impressive, with 1,224 units delivered to customers in 2020.
BMW exports from Thailand represented another success for the company, with car exports growing by 3 per cent to 15,079 units and motorcycle exports surging by as much as 97 per cent to 8,064 units, thanks to strong demand from ASEAN and Chinese big bike markets.
The BMW factory in Rayong province assembles a total of 17 car models and nine motorcycles, and is the only BMW facility in the world to have both car and motorcycle production under one roof. Total production last year reached 32,052 units, comprising of 23,177 automobiles (down 10 per cent) and 8,875 motorcycles (up by 43 per cent).
Even the financing arm of BMW had a record year in Covid-struck 2020. BMW Financial Services Thailand achieved a record Bt16.77-billion in new business throughout 2020, while total portfolio value reached a record Bt50.5 billion.