Monday, February 29, 2016

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

The short-lived administration of  Joseph "Erap" Estrada coincided with the Asian Financial Crisis that he passed on. From a whopping 100,000 and above units from his predecessor, sales fell down to the 80,000 range and flirt below 70,000 later on. Numerous events in the automotive industry were witnessed including the return of Ford, the intense competition of the AUV which outpaced the demand of compact sedans, and the revision of taxes that caused 4x4 models of SUVs to be heavily priced.

In this feature, we shall discover the vehicles that were launched during his three year term (technically, he started in June 30, 1998 but we shall count the first six months) and discover the hits and the misses 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 series, we will be including vehicle related events that had occurred.

1998 HIT - Mitsubishi Adventure (January 1998)

If there is one car that propelled Mitsubishi to the top slot since the 80s, this is the one. Basically a Taiwanese vehicle, this is one of the popular imports from this state alongside Meteor Garden and Milktea. Doing some exterior and interior revisions and place in Mitsu's famed 4D56 engine did the trick and had bested the Toyota Tamaraw FX in its first full year. Toyota's Revo, on the other hand, arrived in September but gained full market domination the following year.

Other hits: Toyota Revo (September 1998), Ford Expedition and F150 (August 1998), Nissan Frontier (September 1998)

1998 MISS - Falling Vehicle Sales

The whole of South East Asia wasn't spared from the effects of the financial crisis in which high interest rates caused potential buyers to delay their purchases. From 144,000 in 1997, it decreased to 80,000 or a 44% decline. All manufacturers experienced declining sales and caused several brands to close down which included Daewoo, Daihatsu, Fiat, among others.

1999 HIT - Honda Civic SiR (September 1998 as 1999 model)

For the first time, the updated Civic for 1999 became the best seller among passenger cars and took away the title from its fiercest rival, the Toyota Corolla. If there is one reason why the vehicle brought more buyers, it would be the SiR version especially for below P800,000 (a huge sum back then) one can get something fast and sleek that the Civic badge is known for. So special that legitimate stock units command a high price tag. The Civic continued to outsell the Toyota in 2000 and between 2006 to 2008.

Other hits: Mitsubishi Pajero Field Master (late 1998)

1999 MISS - Falling Vehicle Sales, Again

74,000 cars were driven away from dealer lots, a decrease of 8%. The crisis crippled more of existing brands and caused Kia and Mazda to fall down even further.

2000 HIT - Nissan Sentra Exalta (March 2000)

Yulon Motor of Taiwan took over Pilipinas Nissan's operations due to the financial crisis. One of their first releases was the Sentra Exalta series, in which items such as leather seats and a sunroof were kitted to something that is worth below a million bucks and placed the Super Saloon models into heaven. So successful that the luxury theme was followed by the Cefiro and Verita, which were also launched in the same year. The Exalta name was affixed as a whole between 2001 to 2004 and dropping it later on.

Other hits: Nissan Cefiro (July 2000), Toyota RAV4 (June 2000)

2000 MISS - Toyota Echo and Echo Verso (June 2000)

Toyotas that don't sell well are very rare and these moments can be counted using your fingers. In the case of the Echo and Echo Verso hatchbacks, these two failed simply because they were priced expensively and their sizes were too small to justify. The market wasn't ready yet for the hatchback craze which is a trend in Europe and Japan for years already. The Echo would return as the Yaris in 2007 but would sell moderately.

Other misses: Volkswagen revised line-up (May 2000), Honda HR-V (May 2000), Kia Sephia (August 2000)

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