Like National Basketball Association’s legendary duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen or fictional superheroes Batman and Robin, Toyota Motor Philippines and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. form one of the most reliable match up that the country’s automotive industry could bank on. Anytime.
Their sheer individual sales brilliance lifted up a reeling industry in 2011.
Praying for the much needed year-end numbers after getting crippled by the severe disruptions in the global supply chain brought about by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan as well as the massive flooding in Thailand, the industry banked on the two’s extraordinary sales efforts as they both ended up owning more than half of that year’s automotive industry pie chart: as TMP was able to sell 54,593 units (38.55 percent) in 2011, MMPC on the other hand, sold 32,603 total units (20 percent).
This has been their story for more than a decade: (at least in the Philippines) the automotive industry always ranked TMP first and MMPC second, and everyone understood that.
Of course, MMPC must have yearned to have its own time on center stage, but somehow quickly discovered all of the additional pressure that comes with being “The Man” and realized life is still better when you’re selling extremely well even if the other gets the bulk of the credit.
For 2012, MMPC continues the tradition of playing the part of a good wingman. The company started the year excellently as it was able to continue the robust sale of its Montero Sport (despite supplies problem), which is now beefed up with a more powerful but fuel efficient variant equipped with a diesel engine that features a variable geometry turbocharger and intercooler.
MMPC currently sells around 1,000 units of the midsize SUV every month (roughly a third of its average monthly sales). To date, MMPC has sold close to 45,000 units since it was introduced in the last quarter of 2008.
Seeing the last batch of its decade-old yet still popular Lancer 1.6 get sold out, MMPC in July, unveiled the 1.6-liter version of the Lancer EX that now sports Mitsubishi’s jet fighter-inspired front grille as well as a new 16 valve DOHC MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic Control) engine.
The introduction of the Lancer EX 1.6 enabled MMPC to enjoy its biggest monthly growth—at 397.4 percent—after 189 of the compact sedan were sold in July.
MMPC invited several members of the local motoring media to preview the all-new Mirage subcompact hatch in Thailand last July, everyone saw another potential bestseller for MMPC.
This was proven when the company displayed an actual unit at the 4th Philippine International Motor Show in August.
It generated much interest that by Nov. 16, when the 1.2-liter subcompact hatch became officially available, more than 2,500 units were pre sold.
“Demand was outstripping supply that of the 1,098 units (manufactured in Thailand) that we delivered to our buyers, more than 1,500 are still awaiting theirs. In fact, this model alone helped us achieve our highest monthly sales since 1995 as we sold 3,840 units (all models included) in November, a 37.1 percent improvement from our October sales of 2,800 units. As a result we owned 23.1 percent share of the market last month,” reported Hikosaburo Shibata, MMPC president and CEO.
MMPC VP for Marketing Services Froilan Dytianquin added that the company is optimistic that such sustained market excitement over the Mirage will pave the way for MMPC’s strong return in the passenger car segment.
“In November, while most of the brands suffered decline in passenger car sales, MMPC registered a remarkable 608.7-percent growth in the segment versus the previous month, selling 1,219 combined sales of Lancer EX and the newly introduced all new Mirage. The introduction of the all new Mirage, also enabled the company to grab the number 2 spot in the PC segment last month, capturing 20 percent market share. Accordingly, MMPC registered exceptional growth of 58.5 percent in the PC segment year to date compared to the same period last year,” Shibata added.
Shibata is in fact confident about MMPC’s performance this December especially since as of end-November, MMPC already sold 31,551 units, a 4.6 percent improvement from the same period last year.
“The country’s automotive industry is on a roll for 2012. We are optimistic that it will keep its momentum and will be breeze through another record breaking year in 2013,” said Shibata.
Apart from the Mirage, Lancer EX and the Montero Sport, MMPC also sells the L300 van, Adventure AUV, Strada pickup truck, Pajero full-size SUV, ASX compact SUV and the Fuzion compact multipurpose vehicle.
Like the Mirage, the Montero Sport and Strada are imported from Thailand while the Pajero and the ASX are imported from Japan. MMPC on the other hand, manufactures the Adventure, the Lancer EX and the L300 in its Cainta plant in the province of Rizal.
“Next year, we are targeting to sell 43,000 units as total demand is expected to increase,” announced Shibata who disclosed that the company aims to launch at least two new models—a sport utility vehicle and a passenger car to be unveiled in the second half of 2013—next year.
He is also optimistic that the automotive industry next year will be able to breach the 200,000 unit mark saying that increase in vehicle demand next year will be driven by a positive consumer outlook and election related spending.
“Apart from new models, upgrades and aggressiveness of banks to facilitate faster and lower interest rates for auto loans will further drive the growth, we project that subcompact passenger car, multi-purpose vehicles, and sport utility vehicles will continue to dominate the auto industry in 2012. As volatile fuel cost continue to put pressure the auto industry, low displacement passenger cars as well as diesel powered commercial vehicles will still be much in demand,” Shibata projected.