South Eon Club shares their love for Hyundai’s baby four-wheeler
When oil prices skyrocketed in the late 2000s as a result of global economic turmoil, people flocked to cars that consumed fuel like a hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower.
Indeed, this era led to the rise of the A-segment in the Philippines, which started with the likes of the Suzuki Alto and Celerio (recall all the pink, first-generation Celerios you saw back then). These were followed by larger-engined and more chic models like the Mitsubishi Mirage and the Toyota Wigo.
So the Hyundai Eon is a latecomer to the party – having debuted locally at the 2012 Manila International Auto Show – and with oil prices today dropping back to levels prior to the global recession, what’s the point of having yet another small, frugal car? However, Hyundai’s littlest one (built in the company’s Indian plant) has become a huge hit.
Whether as a new driver’s first car or as a fleet car, our streets are now littered with these mouse-like machines with their tall bodies supported by teeny-weeny wheels that are pushed all the way to the corners. For South Eon Club Vice-President Mark Anthony, the tiny Hyundai has many other redeeming features aside from its exceptionally low fuel consumption.
“It may be cute, but we consider it as a family car,” he said. “And it’s not only cheaper to buy than equivalent models of other brands, but also cheaper and easier to modify than other small cars.”
Meanwhile, club president Michelle Gonzales said the Eon offers surprisingly sprightly performance for such a small car.
“A lot of people think because it has an 800-cc three-cylinder engine, it can’t climb hills,” she said. “But we’ve proven in our journeys that it can even climb up to Baguio. It’s also capable of doing long-distance drives.”
From discord comes unity
Anthony said the club was formed in December 4, 2014, initially with 50 members.
“We all met and bonded as members of another car club, especially since we were all from the South,” he said. “Unfortunately, we somehow got involved in a conflict with that club. As such, we decided to put up our own group.”
Gonzales said the club now has around 370 members in Cavite, Alabang (Muntinlupa City) and Laguna, as well as the cities of Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Taguig, Pasay and Makati. “The club is continuously growing because people keep buying Eons,” she said.
Quality over quantity
Although the club is interested in expanding, Anthony said they want to build a solid base before recruiting members from different parts of the country. In addition, he said the South Eon Club currently has a partnership with the Eon Pilipinas club, with whom they share similar club guidelines.
Anthony also said to join the South Eon Club, one must not only own an Eon, but also go through a rigorous filtering process by the club’s officers.
“Since we prioritize quality over quantity, applicants must show us why he or she wants to join the group,” he said. “We communicate through private messages on our club’s Facebook group. We also request a photo of the car or ‘selfie’ photo with the car, as well as the car’s location, which should be in the South.”
Gonzales said they do this because the club wants to avoid members who just want to sell stuff on the Facebook page. She also said although they cater primarily to Eon owners, the club also entertains queries from people who are interested in buying one.
Gonzales said the club doesn’t distinguish between probationary and bona fide members, and that new members aren’t required to comply with strict rules on attendance.
“We encourage our members to attend EBs [eyeballs]and those who attend their first EB will receive a club sticker,” she said. “But active members, who frequently show up at the club’s activities and help out in answering questions in the Facebook group, receive a special badge. As much as possible, we want the club to be an outlet for members to release their stress.”
Anthony said since the club is affiliated with Hyundai Parañaque West, members get discounts when they have their Eons serviced there. He said members also get discounts at after-market servicing stations and car-accessory shops.
Eon Southballers, birthday-party outreach
Besides the monthly EBs, Gonzales said the club goes out on fun rides, where they encourage members to bring their families along. Outside of cars, she said the group also bonds over weekly basketball games (calling themselves the Eon Southballers), often competing with other clubs, and holds annual outreach programs.
“On our last outreach activity, we went to 50 kids in four barangays in Las Piñas City,” she said. “It’s not just a simple outreach program, but more like a birthday party with clowns, food and toys to share. Every member gave a pledge so that we were able to provide the kids with a bag and school supplies.”
For 2016, Gonzales said the group plans to go on more outings and continue its outreach program.
“What we want is to stay in the South,” she said. “We plan to keep doing our ‘birthday-party-style’ feeding program because we want the kids to enjoy. I’m also working on a blood-letting program with the Philippine Blood Center because we would not only help other people, but also because we could ask for blood from the PBC for free in case one of our members is involved in a crash.”