PHUKET: Despite global economic turmoil, the luxury car import business continues to perform well in an expanding domestic market. Saksri Kerdphol, General Manager of Phuket’s premier foreign automobile dealer and servicer AutoExpress, speaks exclusively with the Gazette about foreign cars and the import market trends in Phuket.
Phuket Gazette: How would you describe AutoExpress clients? Who is your main target group in Phuket ?
Saksri Kerdphol: Our customers range from prominent businessmen to couples and families. We supply a wide range of cars valued between 3 and 30 million baht, targeting different high-end, luxury, family and sport markets. The majority of our clients are wealthy Thais. However, the expatriate client base is expanding, especially the Russian and English markets.
PG: How does AutoExpress differentiate from other competitors in the imported-car business?
SK: We are well established in Thailand, having starting in Bangkok where we have five showrooms. We offer exclusive customer-oriented service including both sales and servicing for all types of import and luxury cars.
The relationship doesn’t end with the sale. In addition to our four on-site mechanics, we also fly in one specialty mechanic from Bangkok on a weekly basis. Our parts suppliers are always reliable, so we are equipped to service any vehicle.
Moreover, we don’t just sell one or a few types of cars, but can import any model of any car from around the world, including used, classic and custom-made cars. However, special orders may take longer than usual, but it is not out of our scope. Every customer has special needs and our aim is to meet the needs of each customer.
PG: How do you view the local competition?
SK: I have extensive experience in the hospitality industry so I view this business similarly. When a hotel is full, they will refer customers to another hotel.
The same goes for this business. If our order log is full for a certain car or part, then we’ll refer the customer to someone else and visa versa. It’s better to work with your competition and not against each other.
PG: Why do you think this market continues to be popular?
SK: Imported cars have a reputation for being strong, durable and reliable. Customers in this market are willing to pay more for superior quality.
The state of the economy is not usually a factor for them. Our customers always want the maximum with full-options and specifications. There is no cutting corners in this market.
PG: Which of your cars are the most popular and best sellers? Any other good performers?
SK: Without a doubt, Mercedes Benz remains the most popular luxury car for the Phuket and Thai market overall, as it is the ultimate status symbol car.
Other cars performing well include the Audi TT Coupe and the Lexus RX 270.
Lately demand for the Mini Cooper is becoming strong.
For families, the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q5 are popular choices.
PG: Of all these beautiful cars, which one is your favorite?
SK: A yellow Porsche Boxster. I’m trying to convince my boyfriend to buy me one.I really do love convertibles.
PG: What about a Corvette convertible?
SK: We have not yet had any requests for this American-icon car, but if we did, we would be the first to import one to Phuket.
PG: Do you get requests for other American cars?
SK: We have sold several Hummers. Even though they’re reliable cars for the Phuket terrain, the problem with them is finding a parking spot. It’s for this same reason the compact car is growing in popularity.
— Steven Layne
This post was last modified on May 30, 2018 8:26 am
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