Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino
LAST year was yet another momentous time for the motoring industry. Remarkable innovations and upgrades continued to propagate all across different vehicle segments and exceeded our expectations anew. But amid all these groundbreaking progresses, the pending implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law of 2018 left the motoring public skeptical about how it will affect the industry. As the pending new tax law will greatly impact vehicle prices, this compelled many consumers to buy their targeted cars just before the year ends.
Consequently, most auto manufacturers, if not all, boosted their respective sales performance, particularly in the last quarter. For instance, last December alone, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) registered 17,268 total units sold, contributing to the overall 166,601 year-to-date unit sales. The outstanding annual sales figure was brought about by the strong sales performance of their best-selling subcompact sedan Vios—boasting 34,338 total units sold. All these were gladly shared by no less than TMP President Satoru Suzuki during the launch of the new Yaris last month. Ford Philippines, meantime, also had its share of all-time best monthly performance with its December unit sales of 4,629—an increase of 45 percent. The Everest remained Ford’s top seller in the country last year with 2,455 units sold. That also happened to be the model’s all-time best month last December, with sales increasing 48 percent year-over-year to 1,582 vehicles. Likewise, 2017 was a banner year for Mazda Philippines. Last year, the company and its network of dealerships achieved its best-ever sales performance since Bermaz Auto Dealership (BAP) assumed distributorship in 2013.
In terms of the industry’s perspective on the newly implemented TRAIN law, Ford Philippines Managing Director Bert Lessard shared his insights. “The signing of the TRAIN into law is a welcome achievement for the continued development and progress of the Philippine economy, with the auto industry remaining a key growth enabler. We’re thankful to have participated in the collaborative consultations with the government and industry associations during the entire process.” Lessard further stated they believe that the law will impact industry sales, but also anticipates that overall industry sales will remain healthy in 2018, in line with the country’s positive economic outlook. “We expect that our continued growth will help steer the industry’s performance, driven primarily by continued demand for our best-selling nameplates: Ranger, Everest and EcoSport.
Be that as it may, 2018 is not just all about the impact of the TRAIN law. Manufacturers are also gearing up either to step up in the game or simply carry on their priorities. “Our Ford customer experience will also remain a top priority this year, as we continue to work closely with our dealers on further enhancements and customer service programs,” Lessard said.
In the case of Toyota, it’s about keeping the ball rolling. “As we move on to 2018 and celebrate our 25th anniversary in the Philippines, we’ll continue to promote ‘always better cars, always better lives.’ We shall, likewise, continue to bring you motorsports fans with the Vios Cup season five. These are just few of what’s in store for the year,” Suzuki said.
As for Mazda Philippines, according to its BAP President and CEO Steven Tan, the company is confident that the growth experienced by the industry in the past years will still continue into the years to come. “For 2018, we continue to focus on customer satisfaction processes, support the dealer network in technical training and business management, and continue to participate in the positive business environment.” He further stated that they aim to bring their products closer to customers by providing easier access to Mazda showrooms and to continuously raise the quality of its award-winning aftersales service. “Mazda remains to be a premium Japanese brand committed to providing its customers with finest products that elevate their driving and ownership experience,” Tan concluded.
Meanwhile, the hauling business will continue to drive its growing and vital industry in the country. Hino Motors Philippines Chairman Vicente Mills Jr. also shared interesting insights about the industry. In spite of trucks and buses not covered by excise tax, he believes that the law augurs well, giving a positive outlook for the commercial vehicle segment of the industry. “This is because the regulation of private vehicles can, in effect, encourage more businesses to upgrade and expand their truck fleets to perform and deliver goods more efficiently,” he said.
Hino’s top honcho also sees sales and services improvement in the industry this year due to the anticipated improving economic developments across the country. “Especially in terms of infrastructure construction, opportunities for transport businesses are expected to increase truck and bus requirements over the next couple of years. The increases in domestic travel activities will also provide more impetus to the bus industry. Any increase in the movement of people will require the services of modern buses. Further, fleet replacement in compliance with Euro 4 and such requirements, will translate into more sales,” Mills explained.
Mills also stated that there is indeed a strong need for accessible and reliable transportation to move both people and goods across the country better. “It is part of our vision to create a more ‘connected’ community,” he said. “For the trucking industry in 2018, we see improvements in the roll-on/roll-off transport system. These will ease access to more areas across the country, specifically the developing areas in the south. There will be an increase in people and goods movement as the economy continues to grow and, hopefully all these will translate in more developments nationwide.”