Friday, January 29, 2016

Car Features - The Pops and Flops of Gloria's Administration

Let us look back at the term of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, or PGMA in short. Her nine years in power experienced different events in the automotive industry which included sagging sales due to the economy, the influx of imported surplus vehicles from abroad. and the revision of taxation laws that had more vehicles to be introduced here. From 2001 until 2006, the market haven't reached six figures until 2007 when a ban on imported passenger vehicles was imposed by the president herself.

In this feature, we shall discover the vehicles that were blockbuster hits and those that had miserably failed. This article covers vehicle launches from 2001 until 2009 (the first six months of 2010 are still her's, though we gave it away to the succeeding president) that were a hit or miss in terms of sales and market reception. One rule: only one hit or miss per years but numerous cars under one brand can fall if applicable. There are 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 brands. In this article, we will be including vehicle related events that had rocked her administration.

2001 HIT - Toyota Corolla Altis (July 2001)

2001 was the year of compact sedans for the Japanese, since either brought in new (Honda, Nissan, and Toyota) or updates (Mitsubishi) of their contenders. Honda came in first and the Civic received somewhat lukewarm reception especially it grew in size. Toyota did their homework well and outsold the Civic after two years. New engines came in standard, as well as more space for humans and an Altis moniker. It would remain in top until a new Civic five years later dethroned this.

Other hits: Isuzu Crosswind (June 2001), Nissan Patrol (November 2000 as 2001 model)

2001 MISS - Falling Vehicle Sales

From 83,000 units sold in 2000, it fell to 76,000 for this year. No thanks to the effects of a higher dollar (it reached $1=P56) and several economy related events including the 911 attacks, people would hold back their wallets and postpone their vehicle purchases.

2002 HIT - Honda CR-V (April 2002)

2002 saw a redesigned CR-V, in which it had one advantage over its peers, a cheaper price and a seating capacity for 10 people (in a 3-4-3 layout). With SUV prices are priced higher due to ridiculous taxation rates, vehicles that can seat 10 or more and pickup trucks have lower tariffs. There were times it would sell more than Crosswinds and Adventures, but good things came to an end as the 10 seater model gave way to a more civilized five seater and 4x4 variants late 2003.

Other hits: Toyota Camry (June 2002)

2002 MISS - Subaru Forester (September 2002)

The earlier part of the decade saw a redesigned RAV4 and CR-V plus new entries from different manufacturers. Subaru was one of the manufacturers who jumped in the compact SUV trend especially it is based from the Impreza plus it came with standard AWD. Lack of marketing (which competitors did heavily) plus dealer network killed this one.

2003 HIT - Honda City (May 2003)

Its exterior styling may not be favorable to most, but the 2003 redesign gave the vehicle a profile over its anonymous and character-less predecessor. This City brought in Honda's i-DSi technology and foldable rear seats to the mainstream and most importantly, the competition. It came first (the Rio was first, but isn't a success) and rivals joined the downsizing trend after.

Other hits: Toyota Vios (June 2003), Nissan X-Trail (July 2003), Ford Everest (October 2003), Isuzu D-Max (November 2003), Chevrolet Optra (August 2003)

2003 MISS - Chevrolet Aveo (August 2003)

After years of bringing in large and expensive vehicles for the upper class market, GM's Philippine subsidiary brought in vehicles tuned for the Asian market and first would be the Aveo hatchback and Optra sedan. The latter had success (which was a victim of its own later in its life), while the Aveo isn't a hit among buyers. We are not sure but the market isn't yet ready for hatchbacks, since we prefer sedans and vehicles that can ride more people. A sedan version was made available three years later while the hatchback was killed in 2010.

Other misses: Peugeot (October 2003), Hyundai Sonata and XG (November 2003)

2004 HIT - Mazda 3 (August 2004)

Ford Group Philippines brought back the Mazda brand after years of absence. While the Tribute SUV and 6 mid-size went first, it would be the 3 compact that became the Japanese brand's best seller and would even outsell its Ford sibling, the Focus. Despite the lack of a manual transmission option and a fuel thirsty nature, people would buy this car in droves and you can buy one until early 2012.

Other hits: Honda Jazz (July 2004), Kia Picanto (August 2004)

2004 MISS - AUV Market (2004)

Vehicles that can seat 10 or more people are exempted from excise taxes. While the consumer is the winner here especially more vehicles (and those with higher engine displacements) came to the market, those who are heavily dependent on AUVs and SUVs are the losers here. R.A 9224 passed on August 29, 2003 rationalized the excise tax on all vehicles which was in effect in 1997, it ditched the seating capacity and engine size tax rates for a value based one. It caused prices to increase and sales to decrease of Revos, Adventures, Crosswinds, and other similar vehicles. Although 2003 sales were high enough, the effect was felt the following year. For comparison purposes, here are the sales difference between four popular 10 seat models: Revo sales (2003 sales: 12,001 vs. 2004 sales: 9,413) decreased 22%, Adventure sales (2003 sales: 6,323 vs. 2004 sales: 5,087) fell 20%, Crosswind units (2003 sales: 8,901 vs. 2004 sales: 5,609) went down 37% and CR-V sales (2003 sales: 9,708 vs. 2004 sales: 3,158) went to a 67% decrease.

2005 HIT - Toyota IMV Program (Hilux - December 2004 as 2005 model, Innova - February 2005, Fortuner - May 2005)

An all new Hilux, a Revo replacement, and a challenger to the rising SUV market were launched by Toyota in 2005. These three vehicles posed a threat to most of its competitors and a tough combo to beat in the industry, especially that a single platform can produce three different vehicles catering to different markets while sporting new engines and become the leaders in their respective segments. First would be the Hilux, since their previous models aren't sales leaders but it had changed with this. Next is the Innova, which is basically a next generation Revo/Tamaraw, that bade goodbye to side facing rear seats but clinched the top position as a best seller by using a new name. Lastly the Fortuner revived the "waiting list" game again and attracted buyers due to its handsome exterior and high quality interior, and it would create a noise in the PPV category which would become competitive later on.

Other hits: Hyundai Getz and Tucson (April 2005)

2005 MISS - Chevrolet Lumina (February 2005)

Adding another vehicle to the portfolio is a hard task, especially you may not know if the vehicle will be a hit or miss. Bringing in a Chinese Buick and naming it as a Chevrolet locally was already done with the Venture (not in any way related to the US market model) and the Luimina is the second recipient of this strategy. It failed since it did not bring enough cachet to lure buyers of Camrys and Accords plus a price decrease smelled trouble. Chevrolet left the mid-size market in 2008 and return years later.

Other misses: Mitsubishi Montero Sport (February 2005), Hyundai Sonata (April 2005)

2006 HIT - Honda Civic (April 2006)

A redesigned Civic debuted in 2006 and this alone shocked competitors, making most of them look outdated. This one gave more room, a high quality interior, a futuristic looking dashboard, exterior styling which looked advanced, and improved engines. With these redeeming qualities, it became Honda's best seller until 2008. The Civic didn't regain its status later on since most people went small in terms of buying habits.

Other hits: Toyota Avanza (November 2006), Toyota Camry (September 2006), Hyundai Santa Fe (May 2006)

2006 MISS - Honda Pilot (August 2006)

Priced higher than an Accord back then, the Pilot was Honda's first attempt at the premium SUV market that is dominated by most Japanese and American rivals. Sure it had enough room for eight and has more power, but rivals sold more and with just a run of 200 units, Honda discontinued it at the end of 2008. It would return in 2012 when the market is hungry for more SUVs.

Other misses: Nissan Murano (April 2006), Mitsubishi Galant (January 2006)

2007 HIT - Toyota Vios (August 2007)

While the first generation model was popular, the second generation brought the Vios nameplate to an all time high since it replaced another Toyota as the best selling car in the country. Sure, the gauges remain at the middle but there is more space and mass by only a few inches there. This model gave way to numerous special edition models, reminiscent of the Big Body Corolla during its time.

Other hits: Honda CR-V (March 2007), Nissan Frontier Navara (November 2007), Hyundai Grand Starex (August 2007)

2007 MISS - Nissan Teana (February 2007)

Replacing the popular but long-in-the-tooth Cefiro is the plush looking Teana. Yeah it may have more creature comforts and a smooth ride, but the Camry sold more units plus with this vehicle being available since 2003, no wonder only a few would take this car seriously.

Other misses: Mitsubishi Endeavor (2007), Hyundai Elantra (May 2007), Mitsubishi Fuzion (June 2007)

2008 HIT - Hyundai i10 (August 2008)

2008 would be remembered as a year of high fuel prices and the US economy went south, It was the time when manufacturers launched mini hatchbacks with small displacement engines, owing to the fuel prices. Hyundai hit the right notes again with the i10, after doing its homework with the Getz years ago. This Indian made hatch carried an affordable price, generous amount of interior space, peppy engines, and a high quality interior. Although it lost favor for a much smaller Eon, the i10 cemented Hyundai's ground.

Other hits: Toyota Corolla Altis (March 2008), Subaru Forester (July 2008)

2008 MISS - Mazda BT-50 (October 2008)

While the Ford Ranger is popular, the BT-50 is introduced to expand Mazda's line-up. To be honest here, placing a pick-up truck for a manufacturer who heavily promotes spirited driving is like giving a pair of shades to a blind man. Despite not selling well, it remained in the line-up being unloved.

Other misses: Suzuki SX4 (July 2008), Hyundai i30 and Genesis (August 2008), Subaru Tribeca (2008)

2009 HIT - Mitsubishi Montero Sport (August 2008 as 2009 model)

The Philippine market was the second country to have this vehicle after it debuted in Moscow, Russia, ensuring its future popularity here. Although 3.2 4x4 models came in first, it was the 2.5 4x2 GLS that propelled the Montero Sport name to beat the Fortuner in terms of sales and become the brand's best seller. Prices undercut Toyota's while feature content is an ace, it dominated until 2015.

Other hits: Honda Jazz (August 2008 as 2009 model), Honda City (January 2009), Suzuki Celerio (June 2009)

2009 MISS - Kia Forte and Mohave

Kias are known for its value-based pricing, but the Forte compact and Mohave SUV are priced way above the competition, killing them in this aspect instantly. While the two vehicles had a lot of standard equipment, they were less marketed and only a few know about their existence. While the Mohave was permanently laid to rest, the Forte was downgraded and the second generation model flopped again.

Other misses: Great Wall (April 2009), Lifan (April 2009)

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