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Pressing on come hell or high water

The feat may be attributed to the collective efforts of local players as they kept the industry alive amid all the chaos. In particular, a number of carmakers persistently held their various vehicle launches throughout the year.



The past year may be remembered as the darkest year of this raging Covid-19 pandemic as it was supposed to be the year that the industry was finally about to see the light at the end of the long, cold and dark tunnel. However, with reimposition of lockdowns, virus cases catapulting to unimaginable numbers and global fuel prices skyrocketing to unexpected heights, that supposed light turned dimmer as we slowly marched through the year.

However, despite the predicament, we remained unthwarted. The relentless spirit of the automotive industry, in particular, pressed on come hell or high water. In the face of struggles, it has shown grit and with it, it has borne fruit, as it tried to recover and surpass sales numbers in 2020.

In its recent year-to-date (YTD) November joint sales report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. and Truck Manufacturers’ Association, the industry churned out 240,642 units, a 22.7 percent growth compared to the same period last year. Take note, this does not even include the Association of Vehicle Imports and Distributors’ numbers. The feat may be attributed to the collective effort of local players as they kept the industry alive amid all the chaos. In particular, a number of carmakers persistently held their ground and still conducted their various vehicle launches throughout the year. In fact, the following are the top local carmakers (wherein the top five may be in order, so far) which has helped the industry recover from last year’s slump.


Toyota Motor Philippines

With half of the bestselling cars in the local industry belonging to the country’s biggest carmaker, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) remained steadfast — as usual — selling 116,165 units YTD this November. These digits may be attributed to a number of its vehicles in its stable. Few of these vehicles are perhaps its newest sport versions of its pickup truck and sport utility vehicle (SUV), particularly included in its racing lineup, the Toyota Hilux GR-S and the Toyota Fortuner GR-S.

SPRUCED up Gazoo Racing lineup of Toyota’s pickup truck and sport utility vehicle pays homage to the carmaker’s sporty chutzpah.

The Toyota Hilux GR-S gets a sportier version of the well-known pickup with its more aggressive front grille, gloss-black accents, sport bar and spruced up 18-inch alloys. The Fortuner GR-S, meantime, sports redesigned front and rear bumpers, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels. The former is tagged at P1.985 million, while the latter is priced at P2.509 million and is available in White Pearl, Crystal Shine with an Attitude Black Mica roof.

The carmaker also unveiled its hybrid version of its classic Toyota Camry, which is powered by a 16-valve, four cylinder in-line engine paired to a hybrid powertrain and EV mode. It comes in Platinum White Pearl Mica, Metal Stream Metallic, Attitude Black Mica and starts at a price of P2.335 million.


Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation

Following TMP is Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation with YTD November sales of 33,483 units. And perhaps keeping its own stables alive and kicking is its newest offering in the local market, the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 subcompact sedan. This looker carries the brand’s iconic Dynamic Shield, together with its new jazzed up headlights, front grille design and 15-inch alloys. It comes in three variants: GLS CVT variant (P899,000); GLX CVT variant (P819,000) and GLX MT variant (P769,000).

MITSUBISHI Mirage G4 has been one of the carmaker’s perennial sales driver.


Ford Philippines

Meanwhile, the American carmaker rallied during the last parts of the year to capture third in industry rankings with YTD unit sales in November of 18,154. In particular, it launched the all-new 2022 Ford F-150, the most dominant full-sized pickup truck in its local lineup. Powering it is a 3.0-liter power stroke V6 turbo diesel engine with auto start-stop technology, producing 253hp and 596N-m of torque.

Likewise, it launched its all-new Ford Explorer midsized SUV, powered by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine that churns out 300hp and 420N-m of torque.


Suzuki Philippines

Close behind the American player is Suzuki Philippines with 17,567 YTD unit sales last month. The Japanese carmaker continued to slay the market with its impeccable subcompact vehicles and marketing suave. In November, it introduced its upgraded Suzuki S-Presso. At its heart is still the same 1.0-liter three-cylinder K10B engine, mated to a five-speed manual, generating 67hp and 90N-m of torque. It is now being offered with black cladding all around, skid plates, silver-colored door moldings, roof spoiler and alloy wheels. The S-Presso Special Edition is available in Starry Blue Pearl for P568,000.


Nissan Philippines

One of the most aggressive players in 2021 was Nissan Philippines, which was able to introduce four vehicles, such as: The new Nissan Navara, new Nissan Terra, as well as the new-generation model of the Nissan Almera and the carmaker’s inception of the full electric Nissan Leaf.

FULL electric vehicle finally arrives in the country this year after much setback brought about by the raging pandemic.

Early this year, it unveiled its most advanced Nissan Navara with its best-in-class technologies that include the Nissan Intelligent Mobility features and safety systems. Its updated pickup truck is offered in eight variants, with the entry-level manual Navara EL 4×2 tagged at P1.149 million, with the flagship model Pro-4X 4×4 at P1.849 million.

The carmaker also launched the 2022 Nissan Terra which now carries the brand’s new “Unbreakable Design Language,” new headlights and bolder V-Motion front grille. The Terra EL 4×2 M/T retails at P1.649 million; Terra VE 4×2 A/T at P1.829 million; Terra VL 4×2 A/T at P1.999 million and the flagship Terra VL 4×4 A/T at P2.339 million.

To further spice up its vehicle lineup, it likewise unveiled the all-new Nissan Almera. This newest model sports a segment-first 1.0-liter turbo engine that generates 99hp and 152N-m. It comes in four variants and starts at P728,000.

Last but certainly not the least, Nissan Philippines finally introduced in our local shores its flagship full-electric vehicle, Nissan Leaf and with it, the carmaker announced its plan to initially establish seven charging stations nationwide through its own dealerships.

This Leaf is equipped with a 40kWh lithium-ion battery which can travel up to 311 kilometers on a full charge. Its electric powertrain delivers an output of 110kW or 148hp and 320 N-m of torque, accelerating from a standstill to 100kph in 7.9 seconds and can achieve a top speed of 140kph. The EV is priced at P2.798 million.


Honda Cars Philippines Incorporated

The Japanese carmaker, meantime, had its own set of breakthroughs the past year. First, it finally phased out its popular hatch, Honda Jazz, in replace for another hot hatch in the all-new Honda City Hatchback. Thanks to its Ultra Seats, it can easily adapt to a wide variety of the owner’s lifestyle and cargo needs. It also had positive feedback from customers on its driving capabilities, as well as its power and fuel efficiency. Under the hood is the 1.5-liter four cylinder DOHC i-VTEC engine that produces maximum power output of 120hp at 6,600 rpm and 145N-m of torque at 4,300 rpm.

This looker also scored a five-star safety rating from ASEAN NCAP (ASEAN New Car Assessment Program).

HOT hatch Honda City is a delight to see.

The vehicle still retails at P1,115,000, and is available in four colors — Ignite Red Metallic, Meteoroid Gray Metallic, Platinum White Pearl (additional P20,000) and Brilliant Sporty Blue Metallic.
Aside from the hatch, it likewise launched the all-new 11th-generation Honda Civic. Actually, thirty years have already passed since the first Honda Civic arrived on our shores. And after recorded local sales of more than 132,000 units, the iconic vehicle now enters the dawn of a new age, centering on its core values of design, dynamics and human machine interface (HMI).

At the onset, this Civic features a more robust and stylish profile compared to its predecessor. It combines elegance and sportiness with its newly-designed full LED headlamps and fog lights for its top-tier.

Inside, a minimalist cabin design warmly welcomes occupants. They are further treated to a slew of quality materials, from its soft touchpoints to the honeycomb design of its vents. For added entertainment, variants sport up to nine inches of touchscreen display audio with the RS variant further boosting one’s pleasure with a 12-speaker Bose sound system.

Powering this stunner is its new 1.5-liter four-cylinder DOHC VTEC turbo engine which comes standard across all variants. It churns out 176hp and 240N-m of torque, outperforming the predecessor’s 1.5 VTEC turbo mill by 4hp and 20N-m and has 36hp and 66N-m of torque more compared to previous 1.8 naturally-aspirated engine.

The all-new Honda Civic is available in colors: Morning Mist Blue Metallic (new color; V Turbo CVT Honda Sensing and S Turbo CVT Honda Sensing); Meteoroid Grey Metallic (new color; RS Turbo CVT Honda Sensing, V Turbo CVT Honda Sensing and S Turbo CVT Honda Sensing); Ignite Red Metallic (exclusively for RS Turbo CVT Honda Sensing); Platinum White Pearl (RS Turbo CVT Honda Sensing and V Turbo CVT Honda Sensing only) and Lunar Silver Metallic (exclusively for S Turbo CVT Honda Sensing).

It is tagged at suggested retail prices of: S Turbo CVT Honda Sensing — P1,290,000; V Turbo CVT Honda Sensing — P1,498,000 and RS Turbo CVT Honda Sensing — P1,690,000.


Isuzu Philippines Corporation

Speaking of breakthroughs, another carmaker that has made its mark last year was Isuzu Philippines Corporation. First, it launched its award-winning all-new Isuzu D-Max. This vehicle brings along with it car-like style comfort and convenience that compliments its rugged brute profile on the outside. It is powered by a new diesel engine, the 4JJ3-TCX that delivers 187hp and 450N-m of torque. For its top-tier, this new workhorse is priced at P1.825 million.

ISUZU’S winning pair.

Another is IPC’s all-new Mu-X. After its global debut in Thailand, the second-generation seven-seater SUV features a new world-class bolder brand identity. Under its hood is the new 4JJ3-TCX turbo engine mated to a six-speed automatic tranny, producing 187hp and 450N-m of torque. It is offered in the following 4×4 and 4×2 variants: Isuzu Mu-X 3.0L 4×4 LS-E AT (P2.45 million); Isuzu Mu-X 3.0L 4×2 LS-E AT (P2.1 million); Isuzu Mu-X 3.0L 4×2 LS-A AT (P1.9 million) Isuzu Mu-X RZ4E 4×2 LS-A MT (P1.77 million) and the Isuzu Mu-X RZ4E 4×2 LS (P1.59 million).


Chevrolet Philippines

Meanwhile, the American carmaker unveiled the all-new Trailblazer, a new model that is now manufactured in Korea. Under its hood is GM’s next-generation 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that churns out 155hp and 236N-m of torque. It comes in two variants: LT priced at P1,488,888 and Premier at P1,621,888.

Chevrolet Philippines also unwrapped the covers of the 2022 Corvette C8 sports car. It is powered by a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 engine, producing 474hp and 613N-m of torque, making it the most powerful Corvette ever built. From a standstill, it can sprint to 100kph in just 3.55 seconds. It is tagged at P9,915,888.
Also, the company launched the all-new Tracker.


Kia Philippines

Another player that is making its own milestones is Korean carmaker, Kia Philippines. Last year, it launched its all-new logo that depicts the global slogan of “Movement that inspires.” Together with this, it also rolled out its 2022 Kia Sorento, which is offered in three colors: Snow White Pearl, Silky Silver and Aurora Black Pearl. Its prices start at P2.398 million for the 4×2 EX 8 DCT.


MG Philippines

Other than its American counterpart, The Covenant Car Company, Incorporated’s MG brand, on the other hand, launched the 2022 MG ZS T Trophy crossover. This compact sprinter’s 1.3-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine produces 161hp and 230N-m of torque; and is tagged at P1,158,888.

MG ZS T Trophy delivers performance like no other in its class.

Other players

Other than the top performers in the industry, other players did their share in contributing to the overall local automotive sales.

Chery Philippines, for one, unveiled the five-seater compact crossover, Tiggo 7 Pro (P1.198 million) and the Tiggo 2 Pro (P818,000).

CHERY Tiggo 7 Pro combines style and performance in a crossover.

Meanwhile, Maxus Philippines debuted the D60 and the 2022 D90; GAC unveiled the seven-seater multipurpose vehicle, all-new GN6, the GN8 Master’s Edition and the 2022 GS8; Auto Nation Group, on the other hand, had its Mercedes-Benz S-Class, priced at P17.89 million; Land Rover its new Defender D90, Volkwagen Philippines, the all-new T-Cross and Subaru, its new Evoltis and all-new Outback.


2021 target sales

At the onset of 2021, the automotive industry already set its target of 295,400 vehicles sold by yearend even before the reimposed lockdowns, record number of virus cases and high fuel prices. Yet, with how things are running, so far, the set target will, more or less — still — be met.

This may be far from the 420,000 unit sales during the pre-pandemic period, but, at least, we can still say that we have — by hook or by crook — recovered from last year’s shambles. Hence, as we gather strength, gain insight and march forward confidently, may we again face this new motoring chapter of our lives with new hope and renewed vigor. Happy New Year, everyone!