|Driving back from Thonglor last Saturday my head made a quick whip back while passing the new Mini dealership on Soi Ekkami. This is the place for Bangkokians to drool over the sweet MINI coopers in the showroom and take a look at the NEXT Mini coopers for preowned coopers. I had seen the location earlier when the building was being built but had yet to see the finished product. The showroom is definately a place that I plan to visit when I have a little more free time to enjoy looking at beautiful cars.
I must say that when I was in the States the MINI was just another cute car to be put in that category of cars that I believed to be overpriced and that I would probably never own. Even though I think it’s adorable, as well as the PT Cruiser, Plymouth Vibe, VW Beetle, it just seems like too much money for too little car. What did I buy when my first handme down car broke down? I settled on a 2004 Nissan Frontier pickup with a few options that cost around 14,000 $US brand new. Loved it to death, but unfortunately it’s in America while I’m living in Bangkok.
Of course, in Thailand the price issue becomes even more extreme since a Honda Civic jumps from around 18,000 $US to around 28 $US for the top of the line models in US and Thailand. There are a myraid of reasons for the increase in price between the US and Thailand, the major one of those being luxury taxes on cars. When it comes to the MINI cooper the prices are exorbatant. Try forking over 2.4 million baht (68,000 US$) for a car that cost around 21,000 $US. It about makes you want to cry.
Below is the Nation article announcing the opening of the MINI cooper showroom on Soi Ekkami:World’s biggest Mini showroom opens in Soi Ekkamai
Thailand has become home to the largest Mini showroom in the world with the opening of Mini Square on Soi Ekamai.
The six-storey facility cost Bt150 million and has a total area of 6,000 square metres according to Sanhavuth Thammachuanviriya, managing director of the Millennium Auto Group.
Millennium customers previously had to visit the company’s Langsuan facility, which consisted only of a Mini showroom, while servicing was done at Millennium’s BMW service centre in Lat Phrao.
“Millennium has been in the Langsuan Mini showroom since 2002, and after five successful years we decided it was time to expand our facility,” Sanhavuth said.
There are 1,200 Mini customers in Thailand.
David Barry Panton, senior vice president for sales and marketing in Asia-Pacific (except China), the Middle East and African and Caribbean markets for BMW AG, said: “Apart from the main markets in the US and Europe, Asia represents an important market for Mini’s continuous growth.”
The new car showroom and an Internet cafe are located on the first floor, while the Mini “Next” used-car showroom is on the second floor. Floors three and four are for servicing and parts inventory, with eight service bays that can be expanded to 16 in the future. Parking is on the fifth floor. An Italian restaurant called “Fuzio Stylish Restaurant and Bar” sits on the sixth floor and features a panoramic view of the city.
Sethipong Anutarasoti, general manager for Mini in Thailand, said the facility was expected to serve as a gathering place for Mini-owners and enthusiasts.
“Mini showrooms used to be incorporated in BMW showrooms, but now it is solely Mini,” he said. “When this facility is fully ready, we will be linked directly with Mini in Europe.”