WHAT a year it has been in the motoring industry. For the first time, the Philippine automobile industry breached the 200,000 mark in brand new automobile sales. Aside from the phenomenal sales figures, the year was marked with countless model upgrades and a handful new variant launches.
Rounding off the year, we at FastTimes look back at the year that was 2014, and some of its biggest motoring stories:
All-new Toyota Corolla unveiled – The nameplate that started in 1966, and which has spawned over 40 million examples since—toppling the venerated original VW Beetle off its all-time-bestselling-car perch—is now on its 11th generation, and by looks alone seems to have recaptured the verve it once packed. Nothing wrong with the recent-gen Corollas in terms of styling, performance or bulletproof reliability, but they grew up to be more mature rides. The latest model, tagged as the Corolla Altis, puts style alongside the traits the car has a built its reputation on.
Toyota Vios Cup flags off – Toyota was set to hold the first Vios Cup exhibition race in October 2013 at the Clark International Speedway in Pampanga. Unfortunately, Typhoon Santi messed up plans as it hit Central Luzon, so TMP had to postpone the race and motor sports festival for safety reasons.
On January 25, the Vios Cup finally flagged off through an exhibition race, and the number one automotive company in the country showcased to the public the experience “waku-doki,” or heart-racing fun, at the Clark International Speedway. The race featured Vios racecars driven by celebrities that included Aljur Abrenica, Phoemela Barranda, Fabio Ide, Rhian Ramos and Jinno Rufino, as well as by representatives from the automotive media.
Volkswagen opens its flagship showroom in the country–Ayala-owned Automobile Central Enterprise Inc. (ACEI)—official distributor of Volkswagen vehicles in the country, unveiled its premier interactive showroom in February; making it the second Volkswagen dealership worldwide to have a Virtual Interactive Showroom. The interactive showroom which promotes a high-tech, eco-friendly, paperless environment. With the V Table and the V Stand, customers have all the information they need about the brand’s stable of vehicles right at their fingertips. Highlights, specs, as well as a comprehensive comparison of vehicles are just some of the info available. Proposals and brochures can also be also be emailed to client direct from the devices.
Ford Philippines introduces all-new EcoSport – Also in February, Ford Philippines introduced the EcoSport, a B-segment-size SUV that’s based on the popular Ford Fiesta. The company said this makes the vehicle fit for the urban world.
The Ecosport’s high driving position, rugged capability, superior fuel economy and convenient features are meant to take both city streets and mountain roads with comfort and ease. The vehicle is powered by a 1.5-liter engine that is fitted with Ford’s twin independent variable camshaft timing. It makes 108hp at 6,300rpm and 142Nm of torque at 4,500rpm, and can be mated to the brand’s six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission or a five-speed manual gearbox.
Toyota joins mini subcompact fray with Wigo – After years of having no challenger in the mini subcompact segment, Toyota Motor Phils. (TMP) finally joined the fray in the growing market for entry-level cars with the introduction of the Wigo. With launching ceremonies held in Cebu City last March, TMP President Michinobu Sugata said it was the best time for them to introduce the Wigo to the growing number of Filipino motorists. “We at Toyota believe that the best time is now. Now that more and more Filipinos are becoming more interested in a transportation that gives them ease, convenience and, ultimately, their money’s worth. Toyota decided to come up with a vehicle that will deliver exactly that,” Sugata said.
Hyundai introduces Grand i10 hatchback – Hyundai has reworked its first subcompact hatchback, the Grand i10, to show there’s art to city driving. The Grand i10 has already received awards that include the 2014 Indian Car of the Year, Compact Car of the Year of AutoCar India, Car of the Year of CarBuyer (UK) and Best City Car of What Car?, the UK’s most comprehensive car buyer’s guide.
According to Hyundai, credit to the Grand i10’s winning streak goes to its new “chic icon” design concept, which is a refinement of the iconic elements of the mini city car. The car is 80 millimeters longer and 65 millimeters wider than its predecessors, and its new sporty lines are neatly packaged in a five-door hatchback shape.
Mitsubishi unveils updated Strada – Mitsubishi Motors Phils. Corp. (MMPC) has made the Mitsubishi Strada GLS Sport V 4×4 pickup more exciting with the release of the 2014 rendition of this completely built unit from Thailand.
The upgraded truck is available with a five-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic transmission. Several exterior and interior enhancements and accessories have been added to the Strada GLS Sport V to make it look sportier and more rugged even as the model keeps its versatility. The pickup’s grille is now chromed and the front bumper is color-keyed with a silver garnish. Its projector-type halogen headlamps, front fog lamps and dealer-option Ralliart front skid plate also get a refresh. Adding to the pickup’s active character is the exclusive tattoo on its lower body.
Tata Motors opens distributorship in Manila– TATA Motors Ltd., India’s largest automobile company, opened its first dealership in the country back in April with Pilipinas Taj Autogroup Inc. (TAJ) being appointed as its Philippine distributor for Tata passenger and commercial vehicles. The first Tata dealership is located at Diamond Autogroup Building, Marcos Highway, Barangay San Isidro in Cainta, Rizal.
Mitsubishi announces “Big Move” –Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp., (MMPC) announced last May that it is set to transfer to newly acquired plant in Laguna as it prepares to ramp up production. MMPC said it would be relocating to its newly acquired manufacturing facility in Santa Rosa, Laguna, in January next year.
In an interview, MMPC Vice President for Marketing Froilan Dytianquin said that all the company’s offices will transfer to the plant that was once owned and operated by Ford Phils. MMPC will leave its 18-hectare facility in Cainta, Rizal, by the end of the year.
Dytianquin said MMPC will move to the Santa Rosa plant because it has a bigger production capacity. According to him, the plant can build 50,000 vehicles a year, “and if upgraded, could go up to 100,000 units.”
Mazda Forever young – Mazda celebrated the MX-5’s 25th year by unveiling the anniversary model at the New York International Auto Show. The 25th Anniversary Edition will come in “approximately 1,000 units,” to be sold worldwide. Of the number, Mazda Philippines get 25 examples.
Ford adds 3 more Wildtrak variants to Ranger lineup –Ford Philippines expanded the choices available for the Ford Ranger by adding three new Wildtrak variants to the pickup lineup. The range-topping Wildtrak series now includes the 2.2L Ranger Wildtrak 4×2 in both automatic and manual transmissions, and a 3.2L Ranger Wildtrak 4×4 in manual transmission. The new Ranger Wildtrak 4×2 variants come with the Duratorq TDCi 2.2-liter engine that is matched to either a six-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual transmission. The engine makes 148hp and 375Nm of torque.
Suzuki sweetens Swift lineup with 1.2-liter variant—More affordable and still lovable. That is how Suzuki Phils. described the Swift as the subcompact hatchback got a new variant, which is powered by a 1.2-liter engine. The latest Swift joins the 1.4-liter variant.
Suzuki said the new Swift, which has “even better fuel efficiency and lower emissions,” is targeted at first-time car owners. “We are introducing the Swift 1.2 to the Philippines to make the well-loved Suzuki Swift available to a wider audience,” said Suzuki President Hiroshi Suzuki. “This new variant will offer the same great value and best-in-class performance of the Swift in a much more affordable package.”
BMW introduces 4 Series Gran Coupe – BMW continues to fill every niche in the automotive business—or coming up with new ones—as the carmaker concocts the new 4 Series Gran Coupe, the “four-door coupe” variant of a model that was initially created to be the two-door versions of the 3 Series range.
The 4 Series Gran Coupe distinguishes itself from the rest of the 4 Series family through an “emphasized coupe styling,” meaning a longer roofline (necessary to create headroom for backseat passengers) and four frameless doors. But despite the extended roof, the new car is sized the same as the other 4 Series variants.
Honda unveils third generation Jazz—Honda Cars Philippines Inc., in July introduced the all-new Jazz. Under the new Honda design direction, the latest Jazz represents three key elements: High Tech, High Tension and High Touch. These focus on an overall pleasing human experience, and the new car’s exterior design was based on the “Crossfade Monoform Exterior” concept. The all-new, third-generation Jazz further raises the subcompact hatchback benchmark the nameplate has set since 2004
Suzuki introduces affordable family car – Suzuki brings to market an affordable family car it bills as a ‘Life Utility Vehicle.’ Suzuki Philippines conquers the family car market through a newly launched model it dubs as a Life Utility Vehicle (LUV)—the Suzuki Ertiga. The company said the Ertiga is fuel-efficient, spacious and feature-rich, boasting three rows of seats that can accommodate seven passengers.
Chevy releases new Trailblazer LTX--Chevrolet Philippines has introduced a new variant to its popular SUV range. Called the Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8L LTX, the vehicle is fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, a reversing camera with rear sensors and other features. The Trailblazer 2.8L LTX is powered by the second-generation Duramax, 2.8-liter, turbocharged, diesel engine that produces 200hp at 3,600rpm and 500Nm of torque at 2,000rpm. These ratings make the Trailblazer the most powerful in its class, according to Chevrolet.
Mitsubishi opens 46th dealership —Mitsubishi Motors Phils. Corp. (MMPC) recently opened Northpoint Alliance Motor Corp. (NAMCO) in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. NAMCO is MMPC’s 46th dealership. It is located on a 5,245-square-meter property on 50 Buttong, Airport Road, Laoag City.
NAMCO has a 3,785-square-meter building that boasts a 10-car display showroom. It also has a service center with 26 service bays that can accommodate various servicing requirements such as periodic maintenance, electrical, mechanical, air-conditioning, body repairs and paint jobs, among others.
Honda introduces all-new models – Honda Cars Phils. Inc. (HCPI) chose the 5th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) to debut the Honda Brio hatchback and Brio Amaze sedan. Company president and general manager Toshio Kuwahara said the Brio (Italian for “energetic” and “cheerful”) series was especially created for the emerging demands of the Asian market. The HCPI official added the Brio’s development is backed by Honda’s extensive experience in creating compact cars such as the Jazz and City, which are examples of Honda’s “man maximum, machine minimum” design concept. While the most affordable in Honda’s car lineup, HCPI said the Brio models “embody high levels of Honda DQR—durability, quality and reliability.
Isuzu launches all-new mu-X — THE all-new Isuzu MU-X took the spotlight at Isuzu Phils. Corp.’s (IPC) display at the 5th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS). The lineup is topped by the MU-X LS-A, available with either a four-wheel-drive or a two-wheel-drive system that’s paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Following next is the MU-X LS-M, which is fitted with a two-wheel-drive system and a five-speed manual transmission. Bringing up the entry-level end is the MU-X LS that’s also equipped with a two-wheel-drive system and a five-speed manual gearbox.
Next generation Nissan X-Trail launched–Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI) at the 5th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) launched the all-new Nissan X-Trail, the brand’s contender in the compact SUV segment. The latest model was displayed alongside other Nissan vehicles. The new X-Trail has been successful in key markets like the US, Japan, China and Australia. The new X-Trail’s introduction in the Philippines is one of the first in the ASEAN, according to NPI.
Mitsubishi introduces revamped ASX and Pajero–Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) unveiled last October 2 iterations of their crossover Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), the ASX, and their flagship model, the Pajero, in a press presentation at the Capitol Commons in Pasig City.
The ASX or Active Sport Crossover comes packed with more exciting features for an even more fun and pleasurable driving experience.
Not to be upstaged, the 2015 Mitsubishi Pajero became the highlight of the presentation with the right balance between capability and opulence. The new Mitsubishi Pajero is now available in two variants–3.8 Liter MIVEC Gasoline and 3.2 Liter Di-Diesel.
Volkswagen Cebu opens– Iconic Dealership, Inc. formally opened its second showroom right at the heart of the Queen City of the South — Volkswagen Cebu. The simple ceremonial inauguration was led by Volkswagen official distributor Automobile Central Enterprise, Inc. (ACEI) President & CEO Mr. John Philip S. Orbeta and IDI General Manager Mr. Nemesio Solomon Jr.
Lexus unleashes RC F sports coupe–Lexus Manila unleashed its latest high performance sports coupe on November 18 when it unveiled the latest addition to its F marque of high performance cars, the RC F sports car. F refers to the Fuji Speedway,
Largest Ford dealership opens doors in Alabang – Ford Philippines, on November 15, celebrated the continued expansion of its dealer network in the country with the opening of its largest dealership, Ford Alabang. The newest dealership boasts of a five-floor facility that features a 23-vehicle showroom and 80-bay service center.
15 year old gamer wins Vios Cup Championship–A 15-year old Gran Turismo gamer lorded over real racers, most of whom are more than twice his age, in the recently concluded Toyota Vios Cup. Luis Gono, the grid’s youngest competitor emerged as the first overall champion of the country’s most prestigious and highly publicized motorsports event.
50 Years Limited Edition Ford Mustang rolls in to Manila–The all-new Ford Mustang has finally landed in Manila and is sure to satisfy the yearning of the passionate Stang fans across the land. The limited edition Mustang GT continues with the 5.0-liter V8, which now features an upgraded valve-train and cylinder head that helps boost power output to 435 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. The GT has a new intake manifold that features charge motion control valves to partially close off port flow at lower engine speeds. This increases the air charge tumble and swirl for improved air-fuel mixing resulting in improved efficiency and idle stability.
Hyundai unveils Sonata at the MOA–Hyundai Automotive Resources Inc., unveiled the all-new Sonata mid-sized sedan at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. The the “Winter Sonata” as the theme of the launch, HARI made use of the MOA’s icy skating rink to hold the event, which was highlited by a figure skating performance by Filipino olympian Michael Martinez.