The eighth edition of the Manila International Auto Show has come and gone, like a blur. But it has left some indelible marks on participants and guests. Here are some of the more notable ones.
“The pathways leading to different booths are clearer and more orderly this year than last year, but we hope more space will be dedicated for rare cars, supercars and heritage cars next year,” car enthusiast Michael Dulalia, 35, quipped. Michael and son Seph, 8, spent most of their time ogling the R8 GT Audi and RS5 Audi when this writer chanced upon them last Sunday, the last day of the motorshow.
Michael and Seph have been regular Manila International Autoshow visitors. Michael is a member of the Volkswagen Club of the Philippines-Bulacan Chapter, and the Philippine R/C Drifters, while Seph is an R/C drifter.
“As a father to Seph, I wish I could have related to my son some automobile history had there been more heritage cars around.”
Michael and Seph are two of the estimated 88,600 visitors at last week’s MIAS, which was themed “Life in the Fast Lane” this edition. The highlights of the show included the much-awaited precision driver Russ Swift’s daily car stunts with the Subaru, the display of classic and super cars, and the announcement of the Car of the Year-Philippines by the Car Awards Group on the first night of MIAS.
In terms of existence, the eight-year-old MIAS is a relative newcomer compared to other international motorshows around the world. The oldest motor show has been running in Paris since 1898. The Geneva Auto show is 82 years old. The Bangkok International Autoshow, dubbed the biggest in the Asean region, is 33, while the Jakarta version is 20.
In the Philippines, MIAS competes with the likes of Tradeshow International’s 21-year-old Trans Sport Show (car hobbyist’s show with car restoration competition) and the 16-year-old Manila Auto Salon (formerly custom car show).
Propped by master event organizer Worldbex International, MIAS has managed to accelerate its popularity among car enthusiasts and the public in general. However, it has not been without its struggles. Members of Campi (Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc.) has regarded the show generally cooly, allowing its dealers to participate, but reserving its “big guns,” so to speak, for its own annual Campi Auto Show. On the other hand, car importers such as Hyundai Asia Resources Inc., Asian Carmakers Corp. (importers of BMW), and PGA (importers of Porsche) have extended their all-out support for MIAS.
That MIAS has been identified more with car importers has polarized the show even more, prompting professional car racer Mike Potenciano to note that MIAS would have been more of an international caliber if the car manufacturers threw its full support behind it.
He added that “MIAS needs a bigger space,” adding that it would’ve been better had the main and the second hallways were not isolated from each other.
At the Automobile Association Philippines’ first-ever Awards Night held on the second night of MIAS, AAP motorsports committee director and chair Mandy Eduque urged the audience to enjoy the auto show because “it was the best show I’ve seen in the country in a long time.”
MIAS was witness to the launch of 14 new vehicles, from the high-end performance cars to bare-essential people’s cars. Fans of Russ Swift were not disappointed, as arguably one of the world’s best precision drivers showed once more why he’s the man you should leave your car keys with to parallel park. Attention-grabbing booths were set up by BMW, Ford, Subaru, Hyundai, Mini, Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Foton, King Long, and Chana.
Claro Plan, 55, who was sitting inside a Sonata when Inquirer Motoring chanced upon him, said that in his three years of attending MIAS, he saw how it has progressed. He described the experience of attending MIAS as educational, helping customers like him compare everything in one venue.
But like everything else in this world, nothing is perfect. And one show cannot please everyone all at once. For example, Neil V. Briones, a car sales consultant, complained about the parking.
“The motorshow itself is okay, but the parking needs improvement. The west side parking was closed in the afternoon.”
MIAS organizers had to close the west side parking to give way to 200 trucks needed for egress. MIAS organizers were given up to 12 midnight only to vacate the World Trade Center.
Briones also took to task the loud sound system at the exhibit grounds, drowning out what he considered the important onsite sales discussions between sales consultants and customers.
It was a record attendance for Ford, with three new vehicles launched right after the MIAS opening. Ford drew in a record crowds at its wall-to-wall, 1,000-sqm Ford Blue booth. Joining the all-new Ranger pickup truck and the Ford Explorer EcoBoost with 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine was the surprise launch of the 2012 Mustang, which would soon be available locally.
The BMW space was, hands down, the most elegant booth in WTC. It didn’t cramp its 500-square meter space, and instead stood faithful to the MIAS theme, showing only chosen M performance cars and mimicked an international showroom with lounge sofas, while Cafe De Lipa’s operations manager Mario Sison and staff served specially made M blend coffee to guests.
BMW’s all-M display boasted of an average output of 500 hp, not to mention an average torque of more than 600Nm. Anchoring the display was the all-new M5 sports sedan rated at 560 hp and 680 Nm. The M5 was airlifted from Munich to make it to the MIAS opening.
“We’ve assembled, on a per unit basis, the single most powerful collection of cars. We only have five here. A total of 2,382 hp and a total of 2,780 Newton meters of torque combined: Definitely five of the world’s most powerful cars. I even airfreighted the M5. It’s the first all-new M5 to be shown in the Philippines. When we unveiled this, we unveiled the whole booth (during the first day). The whole booth was covered,” gushed Glen Dasig, Asian Carmakers Corp. executive director.
Dasig also showed several audio-video stations featuring M cars and its history. There were also M lifestyle accessories for sale.
Dasig said the BMW booth made sure the feeling of exclusivity was there, which was part of the brand experience. “It’s not cramped. Not tiangge.”
He said that despite the booth’s exclusive image, it had up to 2,000 people visiting daily.
The biggest booth display, hands down, belonged to Hyundai. It used its massive 1025-sqm display as the launch platform for two new hatchbacks: the Eon subcompact and the Veloster sport hatchback with unique three-door configuration. The Genesis Drift Car, modified by Atoy Customs, which also won the Best Drift Car at the Custom and Classic Car competition, was only on display within the MIAS halls.
The best launch presentation went to Subaru for the unveiling of the compact SUV XV, its latest wagon featuring the boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive. The launch featured acrobats and gymnasts as they pulled the covers off the new car.
Piaggio showed off its Ape vehicles, redubbed Arangkata Pinoy Entrepreneur. The Apes are a versatile platform for delivery and even mobile stores. Among the modules shown were the Ape used as a fruit stand, delivery cycle, and a Rockstar-branded mobile party platform.
Foton launched its latest pickup Thunder. Powered by a Cummins common-rail diesel engine, the Thunder is the latest addition to Foton’s line of utility vehicles.
The rarest car in MIAS was the Audi R8 GT, powered by a V10 engine. The vehicle on display was one of just 333 available worldwide. The Audi booth also featured the all-new A6 sedan and RS5 coupe.
The “fastest car in the Philippines” was proclaimed the Ford GT of tuning firm Autoplus Sportzentrium, exclusive distributors of Motul Oil and Lubricants.