There\'s a lot to envy about Thailand\'s automobile industry. For one thing, it\'s one of the biggest in the world, serving as both production and export hubs of the ASEAN region and the global market. Concurrent with that, of course, is the fact that the Thais get a lot of car models that we don\'t.
There is, however, one aspect of the auto business in which we\'re luckier than the Thais. Apparently, Thailand\'s government is so protective of its automotive industry--particularly the manufacturing and assembly aspect--that the tariffs it has placed on completely built, imported vehicles make it exorbitantly expensive to possess one.
According to our source from Mazda Thailand, this is why you hardly ever see any Korean-brand vehicles on Thai roads. This is also why we sometimes get models months or even years ahead of the Thai market.
A case in point would be the Mazda CX-5. Launched in the Philippines in April 2012, the compact crossover only made its debut in the Thai market at the Bangkok International Motor Show in March. Its local sales will only begin later this year. Another example would be the Mazda 6, which was launched at the Manila Auto Show in April 2013. The sporty midsize sedan is expected to commence sales in Thailand in 2014.