Auto brands kick up 1st quarter storm: New model launches set one after the other

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As sales of vehicle assemblers belonging to the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) reported a sales growth of 11 percent last year—156,649 vehicles compared to 141,170 units sold in 2011—its members are expecting an already robust first-quarter sales performance.

Several new model launches are lined up right in the first two months of the year, which point to a long and exciting year for the automotive industry.

“A healthier economy and more model introductions should push the country’s auto sales to reach 200,000 units this year,” said CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez who reported that its members were able to hit overall targets despite several challenges.

With the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) still to release its final figures, overall vehicle sales in 2012 should get close to the 200,000-unit mark.

Here’s a preview of the events and launches in Q1:

Breaking the ice is Nissan Motor Philippines Inc. as it launches the Almera subcompact sedan on Wednesday in Makati City With price tags starting from P710,000 (base model) to up to P830,000, the 1.5-liter Almera is set to trigger a compact sedan war.

Toyota Motors Philippines Corp., on the heels of a dominating performance that saw it gain a 42-percent market share, is poised to follow suit with the launch of all-new, fourth-generation RAV4, a compact SUV that is now powered by a 174-HP 2.5-liter gasoline engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission.

A thanksgiving party has been set Thursday to celebrate Toyota’s 11th consecutive Triple Crown after topping the passenger car and commercial vehicle segments, and overall sales in 2012 with total sales of 65,396 units.

Mitsubishi is all set to celebrate its 50th year of operations in the Philippines with a big celebration on Feb. 18. Last year, MMPC owned 22 percent of the market after selling a total of 34,915 units boosted by a late surge of the newly launched Mirage model.

Columbian Autocar Corp. is doing a media preview of the All-New Carens multipurpose vehicle in an island launch.

The PGA Cars Group is launching five new Audi models, among them the Q3 SUV and facelifts of the Q5 SUV and A4, this month to sustain a big momentum in sales that was achieved last year. It is also said to be unveiling the All-New third-generation Porsche Cayman and an updated version of the Cayenne. Also in the calendar is the formal introduction of the Bentley brand that was formalized last year and new releases from Lamborghini.

Berjaya Philippines officially starts its distribution of the Mazda brand with the expected launch of the All-New Mazda 6 in a press conference scheduled this Friday.

CATS Motors is breaking out of a long silence with the expected unveiling of the facelifted Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

The Covenant Car Company Inc. (TCCCI), exclusive importer and distributor of Chevrolet vehicles, is out to stir things up in the first quarter with the all-out promotion of the new Trailblazer to beef up its SUV offerings.

Motor Image Pilipinas will introduce the All-New Subaru Forester carrying the design language of the XV model.

The Land Rover camp is also preparing for the launch of the All-New fifth-generation Range Rover. All these new models are expected to be showcased at the 2013 Manila International Auto Show at the World Trade Center on April 4-7.

With the multitude of activities expected during the four-day event, expect the 2013 MIAS to be another blockbuster. MIAS showcased more than 400 cars from 500 exhibitors and attracted 88,600 attendees last year.

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