Philippine motor show’s bright, gray spots post-‘Habagat’By Tessa R. Salazar
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Staging a “fun”-themed motor show a couple of weeks after monsoon floods submerged almost 80 percent of Metro Manila was certainly no mean feat. Days before this year’s highlight of a motoring event unveiled to the public, media attention went a-raging the wrong way when an arrogant private motorist vented his blind madness on a hapless traffic enforcer. Not a good way to push forth the cause for driving decent cars on the Metro’s streets, indeed.
But come (road raging) hell or high water, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) went ahead and went on with the show, and simply had fun.
In his speech at the August 16 opening of the Philippine International Motor Show, Campi president Rommel Gutierrez called on Philippine National Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon to turn over the P500,000 donation of Campi to the government’s rescue and relief efforts in the wake of the flooding caused by heavy torrential rains brought on by the southwest monsoon.
Inside the exhibit areas of the 15,000-sqm World Trade Center Metro Manila, there were certainly no traces of the natural and man-made calamities. Visitors were seemingly transported to another planet, feeling not unlike that of Nasa scientists landing their precious space traveler Curiosity successfully on the Red Planet’s surface. And like the same scientists, the thousands of guests who made it into the motor show in the three days it was held ogled at the spectacle laid out before them: German and Japanese marques, pocket-friendly cars, SUVs, and sleek-designed sedans. Will Curiosity find traces of life on Mars? Who knows. Are Filipinos now inhabiting the super-exclusive realm of car designs? That’s where we get one up over the Martian rover, because we have certainly found Filipino life in world-class automobile manufacturing and design.
In the motor show, appreciative visitors lined up patiently to have their pictures taken with US-based Filipino sports car and aircraft designer Randy Rodriguez. Before Randy came up in our radar screens, we knew of only one other Pinoy auto designer, Mercedes-Benz’s Winifredo Camacho.
Perhaps, this is the shining achievement of Campi’s motor show in 2012, that as much as the sleekest-looking, most technologically endowed cars were on display, the people behind these creations were put in an equally bright spotlight. It gives the concept of “fun” a truly human perspective.
“This year, we want to show that despite the adversities that the industry and the nation have gone through, nothing could get in our way and spoil the fun,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez, who is the vice president of market leader Toyota Motor Philippines, said that through the fourth PIMS, the industry got the chance to showcase the strength of the auto industry. The Campi-led motor show displayed 14 auto brands with what Gutierrez described as showcasing “more cutting-edge technology in fuel efficiency, more pocket- and planet-friendly vehicles, more high-impact exhibits and dazzling presentations.”
Already, talks are rife that auto importers who constitute the Alliance of Vehicle Importers and Distributors have been inspired enough to plan on launching their own motor show.
Gutierrez proudly raised the Campi flag during the opening ceremony, saying that the Philippine automotive manufacturing and assembly industry is one of the Philippines’ few remaining major industries. All car companies in the Philippines that operate assembly plants here are Campi members, while other members are auto importers.
“As a major engine of economic growth, the industry accounted for 12 percent of the country’s industrial sector output and 4 percent of the total gross domestic product in 2011 alone, according to data from the National Statistical Coordination Board,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez also cited that “a University of Asia & the Pacific study in 2010 revealed that for every one-peso increase in consumption or investment spending for motor vehicles results in P3.67 worth of additional output in the economy. In addition, P100 billion worth of investments in the domestic automotive manufacturing industry is estimated to generate at least 169,061 new jobs.”
Arnel Doria, founder of Safe-T Ryders and former top executive of a Japan brand, was present at the motor show on Saturday. He observed that “the absence of other big names was noticeable; also the area of OE [original equipment] parts was a bit empty, compared to the usual noise and glitter of after-market suppliers’ trade shows.”
Doria pointed out that the extreme weather the country has been experiencing in the past decade would further drive the sale of SUVs, pick-ups and other high-clearance vehicles. “Consumers do get a sense of security driving these vehicles in flooded streets, thinking these are safe enough for the level of flooding in areas such as Muntinlupa, Marikina and Malabon. This could stunt the sales of fuel-efficient mini-cars with engines below 1.2 liter.”
Doria said Campi members constitute the biggest supplier of motorized vehicles in the market.
“As data shows, the increase in motor vehicles brings with it an increase in the number of road crashes and mishaps. I was expecting Campi to lead the campaign for road safety. I was hoping to see Campi’s initiatives towards reduction of road casualties. I’m not sure about the seminars that were usually conducted inside the PIMS. I wasn’t able to get a complete list of the activities. If there were any, there was a failure to communicate them to ordinary citizens like me.
“The safety aspect I saw in PIMS is (about) the usual airbags, ABS and other car features. I wanted to see Campi’s or its individual members’ activities, initiatives and programs at road accident reduction. I know some of them have programs, and what could be a better venue to showcase them than the PIMS. It’s sort of putting social relevance in the act of making/selling cars.”
He added that instead, he noticed an increase in selling activities, with some exhibitors announcing huge discounts during the show.
“Of course, PIMS is in itself a good opportunity to make sales; no self-respecting salesman will let go of that. I hope the 9-percent growth target will be achieved, for everyone’s sake.”
“And yes, the presence of Elizabeth Lee is very noticeable,” Doria quipped. Lee was a former Campi president.
Campi expects better sales figures for 2012. Gutierrez said that even with the supply disruptions in Thailand and Japan that hampered the industry’s growth, the Philippine auto industry’s economic footprint remains significant, in the following respect:
• The industry generated estimated investments of around P120 billion and over 400,000 jobs for auto workers, including the parts and components industry and the ancillary industries connected to the auto industry in 2011.
• Members also paid duties and taxes of over P30 billion, recorded total exports of about $4 billion, and heavy, long-term investments by among the world’s largest and most respected automotive companies.
Gutierrez expressed his gratitude to Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., along with guests from the private sector, the government and the diplomatic community, and colleagues from the automotive industry.
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