Industry on target; Hyundai in a P1-B bind?

At about this time last year, first-half-of-the-year results for 2016 sales overall totaled 212,901 units. That was more than half of the 350,000 sales target of the previous year. It was a huge 27-percent increase over the same period in 2015, putting industry captains in a Cloud 9 high.

While pundits quickly attributed the whopping jump in sales to the May presidential election last year—rightfully so, I must say, as politicians traditionally spend a virtual fortune acquiring more vehicles than normal for use in their campaign sorties—Rommel Gutierrez added another dimension to the 2016 data.

“There has been a sustained growth since the start of the year,” said Rommel Gutierrez, the president of Campi [Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc.], obviously referring to that 6.7-percent GDP on a consistent basis as 2015 bowed out of the scene.

Gutierrez, a crafty lawyer, who is also the vice president for corporate affairs of Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP), went further by saying, “We remain confident in achieving our initial target for the year due to the continued supply of vehicles, attractive promos and affordable financing schemes.”

By citing the continued supply of vehicles coming from overseas as impetus, Gutierrez was, in essence, saying that the steady stream of cars into the country played a key role in the industry’s staying above board consistently.

It is a known fact that car companies get allocations for different models from their principals abroad, usually done on installment basis and based mainly on demand.

At times, if not most often, vehicle allocations fall short as projections surpass targets, putting dealers at a costly disadvantage as they face the brunt of short-circuited consumers. This is the usual cause of irritation between dealers and consumers. Sometimes, it leads to customers drastically pulling out orders as they detest falling in line amid a shortfall of supply. This has been a company problem for the longest time and there is no solution within sight today, and even tomorrow. Supplies from overseas are always based on virtual gut feel of sales projectors, although they also lean heavily on previous stats to guide them on model allocations to a particular country.

Anyway, recent stats already put the industry as having breached the targeted sales projection, since close to 250,000 units have reportedly been sold. A reason for the industry to celebrate this early?

Well, it could be a premature hurrah in the face of the noise being triggered by the excise tax seemingly poised on vehicles soon, particularly on the high-end models.  On the other hand, many car buffs, especially those from the upper crust of society, could indulge in a buying spree if only to beat the imposition of the new excise tax?

But knowing the volatility of the market, the car world has never been a stranger to price movements—drastic or otherwise, excise tax or no excise tax.

And to digress a bit, what’s this I hear that the Board of Investment wants P1 billion from Hyundai for alleged uncollected taxes from the fastest-growing car company in the country?

Humbly for Hyundai, I offer some space here for an explanation, especially if it’s Hyundai’s top gun Fe Perez-Agudo doing the honors. Gladly, Madame, I’d give way.

PEE STOP for a while there, tradition was in serious danger of getting snapped. I refer to the now iconic media viewing at Lexus Manila HQ at BGC of every Manny Pacquiao fight. Even Vince S. Socco, the maestro of everything good for media affairs, got a bit worried about it. Started in 2010 by founding Lexus President Danny “Sir John” Isla, the wide-screen viewing by motoring journalists began with the Pacquiao-Margarito fight, with Pacquiao winning by unanimous decision. The next 10 fights of Pacquiao, from Mosley in 2011 to Vargas on November 4, 2016, became each a no-miss affair for many motoring hounds. Many were the occasions, too, that Alfred Ty, the Lexus chairman, would show up in a relaxed Sunday slacks, jovially mingling with “the boys from the fourth estate”, who were simply too happy to honor every Sir John invite. And even as Pacquiao lost to Jeff Horn on points in a decision tainted by the three judges’ obviously error-laden it appraisal of the “Sunday Shock” in Brisbane, Australia, that didn’t detract from the delight lavishly provided by another bonding time that everybody had eagerly looked forward to—as only a Lexus-hosted event always does. Cheers to Raymond T. Rodriguez, Sir John’s equally eminent successor, whose baptism of fire as chief host came out in flying colors. Macallan says, “Mabuhay ka, RTR!”