The year that wasBy Botchi Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Last week I gave some tips and hints about what to look forward to in 2013. This week, let’s look back to some of the highlights of 2012.
2012 will be remembered, first and foremost for me, as the year of the sports cars, or at least the return of the affordable sports cars. Many affordable sports cars and performance cars made their appearances to the Philippine public, starting off with the Toyota 86, the Ford Mustang, the Peugeot RC-Z and the Subaru BR-Z. Nissan’s supposed rival, perhaps to be dubbed the Silvia S16, should hurry it up and get on the road immediately.
2012 also saw the formal opening of Lamborghini Manila, as well as the official Ferrari and Maserati showrooms, all of which are in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, which I have unofficially coined as supercar central. I just hope more and more property developers copy Bonifacio Global City and make their mega-developments more car-, bike- and pedestrian-friendly, as Bonifacio Global City has big, well-lit sidewalks, wide-open and smooth roads with properly working traffic signs and lights, lots of car parking lots, and a traffic system that actually works.
2012 also saw the comeback of the French Lion brand, Peugeot, now under the stewardship of Jose Ch. Alvarez’s group (alongside BMW and KIA), and hopefully this time, will be a more stable, longer-lasting brand that can sell truly desirable and crucially reliable and well-supported cars.
2012 saw the Habagat rains wreak havoc on Metro Manila which, thankfully, according to insurance industry expert Prudential Guarantee and Assurance Inc., only cost insurers and policy holders about 20 percent of what “Ondoy” cost them in 2009 as the Filipinos are now better prepared for such extreme acts of nature. Unfortunately, Typhoon “Pablo” caused unimaginable havoc to the island of Mindanao and its constituents prior to Christmas, which was very sad indeed.
2012 also saw the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) post a projected 185,000 cars sold by yearend. As of now, there are still no official figures as I write this column, but it looks like everyone did well enough to reach that target.
2012 saw the ultraluxury car market slow down due to fears of being investigated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. And yet, grey market cars of ultraluxury makes seem to dot more and more of our roads, while the official dealers and importers faced tougher times. While tax evaders should get the whole nine yards, I feel that government did the unthinkable, assumed everyone was guilty even before being proven so; hence I think there was a sense of unfairness here meted out to the legitimate businesses that employ people, generate jobs and provide technology transfer to its workforce. And driving a multimillion-peso car should not project the image of a tax evader as well.
2012 also saw some mention-worthy cars arrive on our shores: Ford’s awesome Ranger (aside from the aforementioned iconic Mustang), Mitsubishi’s mighty Mirage, Toyota’s very regal Camry and the resurgence of Honda, back to the forefront after being largely irrelevant for the past four years. Their lineup, particularly the US-sourced cars are impressive: my favorite of which is the Odyssey minivan, which is arguably the most comfortable family car you can ever buy in the Philippines.
2012, on a personal note, also saw me drive through some familiar and new pathways, all with their own breathtaking sights and sounds. The Alpinstrasse in the Alps and the Autobahn in Germany, the Patapat Viaduct in Ilocos Norte, the Bira Circuit in Pattaya, Thailand, all impressive pieces of tarmac, with their own memorable experiences.
I wonder where 2013 will bring me to? And more importantly, I wonder what new, exciting cars will be unveiled for us all to dream about, desire, and, to the lucky few, buy and drive home? These are indeed exciting cars for the motoring industry.