The importance of local culture in shaping a marketplace was never more conspicuous to this Western mind than at the Bangkok Motor Show when Honda showed two concept bikes that are so far from the normality of Western markets that they will challenge your thinking as they did mine. The highlights of Honda Thailand's massive exhibition were a Chopper-styled scooter and a Grand Prix Racer-styled mini-bike meant for the road.
The presence of the head of Ford Motor Company at the Bangkok Auto Show was no accident – the New York Motor Show was on at the same time. The Detroit of the East produced 2.45 million cars last year (up 68% on 2011), sold 1.43 million locally (up 80%), and became a global top 10 auto producer. It was already the world's second largest producer of trucks, behind only the United States. With just 18 vehicles per 100 population (America has 76), the Thai domestic market offers promise. The world's auto makers are focusing their quest for growth on Asia and Bangkok is now key to the Asian automotive market.