Euro 4 to kill 3 models? Sales surge seen

SMARTING from a threat that may see three vehicle models possibly getting extinct next year, the industry is even getting stronger and stronger overall.

The reason given for the bleak prospect on—God forbid—the garbage-bound vehicles contrasting to the inspiring first quarter sales surge [a stunning 23 percent] is the Euro 4 requirement, which makes it extremely difficult for some models to pass the stringent standards of emission testing before they could be rolled out of the assembly lines.

Thus, fuel emission issues had put in peril the continued production of the Isuzu Crosswind and Mitsubishi’s iconic L300 and the best-selling Mitsubishi Adventure.

Data show that, for some reason, both the Crosswind and the Adventure are the favorite buys, consistently, of our Overseas Filipino Workers—not to mention that the L300 has immensely survived decades and decades of stiff competition to maintain its leadership against incessant challenges from the opposition.   I guess I was still in college when the L300 started dominating its class in runaway fashion—and that wasn’t a long time ago.  Ahem!

But the most critical aspect of the three vehicles’ planned phaseout is the grim specter of displacing a motoring labor force numbering more than 7,000.

The last thing this country needs is an employment rate that keeps rising as fast as the death toll in strife-torn Syria.  Fresh graduates alone this year are mostly desperately searching, groping, for jobs.

And true to its calling as a natural defender of our workers’ well-being, the Philippine Parts Makers Association Inc. (PPMA) has sounded the alarm call, if only to point out the immense impact on the industry when the Euro 4 rule is finally upon us.

That’s because a big chunk of motoring workers are employed in small- and medium-scale automotive parts manufacturing firms that cater mostly to both the mentioned Isuzu and Mitsubishi models.

“…There are parts, manufacturing companies that are scheduled to be closed down,” Inquirer reporter Roy Stephen C. Canivel quoted Ferdinand I. Raquelsantos as saying.

Raquelsantos, the PPMA president, cited the Euro 4 as the main reason, saying:  “Our estimate is that 7,000 employees would be affected with the shutdown of the three models.”

They are the labor force comprising the bulk of parts makers supplying to Isuzu and Mitsubishi.

Already, Isuzu and Mitsubishi have strongly intimated at stopping the manufacture of said models later this year amid a seemingly irreversible plan by the government to force the industry to sell only Euro 4 compliant vehicles by 2018.

And basically, what is a Euro 4 compliant model again?  It is the one that is supposedly environment-friendly.

Will it then be reduced into a battle between clean air and job security?  Too simplistic an analogy?

George Blaylock, the owner of Diamond Motors, echoes the same concerns of Raquelsantos.

“Aside from the Euro 4 issue, one major culprit to the possible displacement of our parts manufacturing workers is the CARS program,” Blaylock said.  “It will kill jobs because sadly, the CARS is aimed at discouraging the continued existence of small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).”

Historically, the SMEs are the traditional buffers against big leaguers in the industry, and their presence helps mitigate the nation’s unemployment problem.

“That’s where the local parts makers are really affected,” said Raquelsantos. “And we are hoping that the CARS program would be the ‘filler’ once production of these three models had been stopped.  The problem, however, is the SMEs weren’t included in the CARS program.”

The CARS program is the government’s incentive subsidy worth P27 billion for any car manufacturer that can produce local models at least 200,000 units in six years or so.

Both Mitsubishi and Toyota are the only ones that have signed up thus far—Mirage for Mitsubishi and Vios for Toyota.

Meanwhile here’s to the industry for selling 94,026 units in the year’s first quarter, eclipsing its performance of 76,473 units in 2016.  And, again, Toyota is tops with a market share of 43.27 percent, followed by Mitsubishi at 17.56 percent, Ford 8.27 percent, Honda 7.82 percent and Isuzu 6.94 percent.

This early then, do I see another bountiful harvest for the industry by year end?

Seems like it.

PEE STOP  It is exactly one week from today when the fourth edition of the two-day Vios Cup Race is flagged off in Clark, Angeles City (minus Jigo Vidanes, though; making Jade B. Sison work double-time?), The beauty of the circuit contest involving a Vios model restructured to the tune of no less than P1 million is that spectators get to see, in the flesh again, celebrities from the silver screen and other platforms racing against each other in animated fashion.  And to top that, admission is free!  A family treat like no other, indeed…All the best to Ray Butch “Elvis” Gamboa’s ongoing Auto Focus Test-Drive Festival at the MOA Circuit in Pasay!…And to Lexus founding president Danny “Sir John” Isla and his wife Joy, enjoy your much-needed breather in New Zealand.  The kids there, sure, would welcome your presence with much joy once again.  It’s been quite a while…