BMW Thailand bully for big-bike boom
German luxury car maker BMW Group Thailand is bullish about the prospects of the big-bike market, expecting double-digit growth this year.
Markus Glaeser, head of BMW Motorrad Thailand, said the market had developed over several years, with many brands and manufacturers making the Thai big-bike market more interesting.
"As most Thai bikers want to own a second motorcycle, the market will remain very attractive and continue growing going forward," he said.
Some 18,000 motorcycles above 500cc were sold here last year, up by 20% from 2014, bucking the bearish overall market, where sales fell by 3.67% to 1.64 million units.
BMW Motorrad Thailand sold a record 1,280 motorcycles last year, up by 83%, in the top three for sales worldwide last year along with China and Malaysia.
The group is keen on the local big-bike market because it localised its assembly production at Rayong's Amata City Industrial Estate in 2014, making BMW Motorrad’s retail prices 30-40% cheaper than imported models.
Last year, the company spent 1.1 billion baht to double annual production of BMW and Mini models to 20,000 cars and raise production of BMW motorcycles to 10,000 a year from 1,000. New production is due to start this year.
The Rayong facility makes eight models for BMW and one for Mini, while the eight for BMW Motorrad are the F700GS, F800R, F800GS, F800GT, S1000R, S1000RR, R1200GS and R1200GS Adventure. This is the only site in BMW's global network with full operations for all three brands.
Mr Glaeser said BMW Motorrad produced 2,700 motorcycles at its Rayong factory last year, with 1,000 shipped to China and Malaysia. The group is studying the feasibility of exporting more motorcycles to Asian markets this year, as these markets are growing quickly.
In Thailand the company will introduce the mid-sized G310R motorcycle in the first quarter but has not said whether it would be built locally or imported from India. Mr Glaeser said the mid-sized market was very attractive, with 20,000 sales last year for 250-500cc engines.