With the 2016 elections being just around the corner, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will just be a regular citizen of the Philippines just like the rest of us. It was during his term car sales had boomed and reached levels of 200,000 and above, meaning more cars were sold to every Filipino out there. It also meant more car launches occurred from the mainstream ones to the high end cars that rich people can buy.
With more car launches, there are cars that had succeeded while some had miserably failed. In this feature article, we shall discover these vehicles from 2010 until 2015 (technically his term had started in June 30, 2010, but we shall count the first six months of the year) that were a hit or miss in terms of sales and market reception. One rule: only one hit or miss per year but numerous cars under one brand can fall if applicable. There are also runner-ups but only a maximum of six cars will be listed. Lastly, we will be focusing more on mainstream brands and less for luxury models.
This will be the first in a series per president going down to the administration of his mother, former president Corazon Aquino.
2010 HIT - Hyundai Tucson (December 2009 as 2010 model)
While the first generation Tucson was a sleeper hit, this one took Hyundai's sales to epic proportions in which waiting lists existed and you have to be in line to get this one. What is not to love here, especially it has that futuristic looks, an improved and high quality interior, and new engines come standard. In fact, it was the segment leader ever since.
Other hits: Toyota Alphard (August 2010), Hyundai Sonata (May 2010), Ford Fiesta (August 2010)
2010 MISS - Nissan Sentra 200 and Patrol Royale (April and June 2010)
Launched by two distributors (NMPI for Sentra, UMC for Patrol Royale) months apart, these two weren't hits by for a multitude of reasons and we shall list them per model. The Sentra 200 promised to replace the nearly decade old N14 based model but it was priced above a million bucks, no thanks from its Mexican importation, plus the vehicle's interior and space didn't befit the price. The Patrol Royale failed because apart from a gasoline engine, it was uber expensive plus not much marketing was done here.
Other misses: Nissan Murano (March 2010, another Nissan dominating this year), Nissan Teana (August 2010, yeah, make four Nissans already)
2011 HIT - Hyundai Elantra (April 2011)
It seemed that the earlier part of the decade was a lucky streak for Hyundai, especially that the Elantra sold well and took battles with industry stalwarts such as the Corolla and Civic. Plus an accolade as the Car of the Year Philippines made things brighter. Although things went smoothly, sales slowed down in 2014 when an update occurred.
Other hits: Mitsubishi Montero Sport update (VGT) (February 2011), Hyundai Accent (December 2010 as 2011 model)
2011 MISS - Chevrolet Traverse (October 2011)
There is a market for high end vehicles, and the Americans are popular for these (think Expedition and Suburban). Since the market had the money, manufacturers focusing on the mainstream market brought in high end vehicles. The Traverse may be a hit in the States, but not in the Philippines no thanks to one factor: a super expensive price plus its gasoline fed engine. The Explorer ate this car alive.
2012 HIT - Toyota 86 (June 2012)
Among the numerous car launches that graced 2012, we shall give the accolade to the Toyota 86, that one car which made the brand more fun to look at and gave people something that is affordable while remaining fun. It was discussed in various internet forums and in social media while enterprising sales people made ways on milking money to prospective customers.
Other hits: Hyundai Eon (March 2012), Kia Rio (January 2012), Chevrolet Trailblazer (October 2012), Ford Explorer (October 2011 as 2012 model)
2012 MISS - Suzuki Kizashi (April 2012)
Our favorite example of a flop car, the Kizashi was indeed a fine car. However, it falls flat on numerous aspects in which includes pricing and size. At P1.3M, you can get something larger or taller, especially these cars outsell this Suzuki despite their price. Size-wise, it falls between a compact and a mid-size, no wonder it failed to find buyers. Worldwide production stopped in 2015, plus resale values are one of the worst out there.
Other misses: Mazda 3 (April 2012), Mazda BT-50 (July 2012), Honda Civic (February 2012. it sold decently, but didn't get the cachet of its predecessors), Chevrolet Sonic (September 2012)
2013 HIT - Mitsubishi Mirage (November 2012 as 2013 model)
When teasers started in 2012 plus a sneak peek during the 2012 Philippine International Motor Show and numerous social media posts (indicating its target market) popped, the Mirage was a hit since the cheapest unit is just priced at P500k and offers generous interior space and more amenities for the price while remaining economical. It was also in 2013, where the Mirage G4 sedan got its launch and sold more than the Lancer.
Other hits: Mitsubishi Mirage G4 (October 2013, like we said above), Ford Ranger Wildtrak (April 2013), Vios (July 2013, as usual), Toyota FJ Cruiser (October 2013), Hyundai Accent Hatchback (February 2013)
2013 MISS - Chery revised line-up (April 2013)
Sure, they had a huge and grand exhibit in the 2013 Manila International Auto Show, but this did not translate well to sales ever since those first Chery QQs had gone one by one. They had a full line-up from a microvan to mini hatchbacks and somewhat upscale looking sedans, but having that Chinese stigma, people looked elsewhere. It would take an eternity for them to be successful again or pull-out like what had happened to Chana.
Other misses: BYD (September 2013, it did not take off)
2014 Hit - Isuzu MU-X (September 2014)
Replacing the slow selling Alterra, the MU-X became a threat to every PPV sold in the market at that time (and that includes its cousin, the Trailblazer). That period became a SUV market especially that some contemporaries were all new (TB) or updated (Fortuner, Montero Sport, Everest). Plus heavy marketing helped also sales, and also resulted to a phenomenon that rivals used to have before, long waits. As of today, supply had been stabilized. 2014 was an interesting year for new popular models, but we picked this especially that this category is the most contested.
Other hits: Toyota Wigo (February 2014), Toyota Corolla Altis (January 2014), Mazda 3 (April 2014), Ford Ecosport (January 2014), Suzuki Swift 1.2 (June 2014), Suzuki Ertiga (July 2014)
2014 Miss - Honda Brio and Brio Amaze (September 2014)
In other markets, it was promoted as an entry level car and was fitted with a 1.2 engine. Locally, they were priced above several rivals but that was because a City (previous generation) derived engine was fitted under their hoods. Entry level cars are an attractive proposition especially given the successes of the Mitsubishi Mirage/Mirage G4 and the Toyota Wigo, however this was a too much effort.
Other misses: Nissan Altima and Sylphy (both March 2014), BAIC (September 2014, another Chinese brand dominated this list)
2015 Hit - Honda Odyssey (March 2015)
The Philippine market used to have the US market Odyssey but it was a lukewarm seller. When the Japanese model arrived, many upper class people wanted one and it had created a long line for this van. We say it was more plushier and more exclusive looking than the model it replaced. The added bonus it was more cheaper to begin with and more suited to Asian tastes.
Other hits: Ford Everest (May 2015), Honda Mobilio (April 2015), Nissan NP300 Navara (February 2015), Nissan NV350 Urvan (June 2015)
2015 Miss - Kia Sorento and Forte (April and June 2015)
Columbian Autocar Corporation launched several new models in its stable (the Mahindra marque and several Peugeots) and one of them was Kia. While the Grand Carnival sold moderately, the third generation Sorento and the second generation Forte didn't sell well for a variety of reasons and lets discuss them per model. The Sorento was so plush enough with high end amenities including a panoramic sunroof but the price went out of reach and towards the bigger guys such as the Ford Explorer. On the case of the Forte, the first generation was a flop due to the price plus it was not marketed that much but the second generation repeats the same mistake, price may be too little high but marketing wasn't heavy.
Other misses: Foton Toplander (October 2015), Hyundai i20 Cross Sport (April 2015), Ford Escape (October 2014 as 2015 model), MG Cars (March 2015)