How much is that car?A colleague of mine in the office recently commented that cars are madly expensive here in Thailand. I hadn't really thought about this before, but then I saw an advert for a used 2009 BMW X3 for a "bargain" 2.2 Million Baht!
Just to put that in context, 2.2 Million baht is about £46,000 at today's exchange rate. For that you get a several year old BMW with 30,000 Kilometres on the clock. (Now, where's my chequebook).
This might not sound too outrageous a price for a premium European car, but when I thought about this in context of other typical prices in Thailand it blew my mind away.
How much are things in Thailand?
- The average meal (street food) is between 50 - 100 BAHT/£1-£2
- Apparently the average salary is 300 BAHT/£6 per day.
- The average rent is 10,000 BAHT/£212 per month.
- An average condominium can be purchased for between 3 and 4 Million BAHT/£63,000 - £85,000.
So, I could either buy this old BMW or pay my monthly rent for 8 years (my rent is 20,000 BHT per month)!
Or I could nearly buy a brand new apartment outright. So many choices...
Why are they this expensive?In a word - tax! Apparently import tax levy can be up to 300% of the car's initial value. That instantly trebles the price of any car shipped in from outside the country. A new Lamborghini would set you back approximately 25 Million BAHT/£530,000 when the same tax penalties are applied.
However, tax rates are still high on domestic units. Even a basic Toyota will set you back 500,000 BAHT/£10,607.00. That's a bit more realistic but in the UK an equivalent specification car would be several thousand pounds cheaper.
ConclusionSorry, there's no specific conclusion on this blog posting! I just can't understand how anyone in Thailand can afford to buy a car and run it. The traffic outside the office window today would indicate that many people have found a way to get mobile though.
Next time you see a slightly battered old European or a brand new Italian luxury car drive past you in Thailand just marvel at how much the person paid for it.