After SUVs, pickups poised to be next trendsetter



Remember when these light trucks used to be just that: tough, powerful metal beasts that push, pull, wade and load big cargos?

Never mind if they looked unfashionable, and we looked like lumberjacks driving those things, and our bodies ached riding them on long hauls for the cramped legroom, sacrificed for the bed at the back for the worthy cargo.

Pickups weren’t meant for the glamorous life-they existed to be utilitarian workhorses. No more, no less.

That was then. Now, pickups have evolved into lifestyle vehicles, providing the comfort and good looks of a sport utility vehicle, yet still carrying the DNA of a cargo carrier. Pickups have become a statement, exuding pogi (or ganda) points, adding more appeal as “executives on rubber shoes.”

Five years ago, this author drove three pickups, each for 19 hours from Manila to a picturesque province in the North, with passengers comfortably nestled at the back. No more aching bodies, or cramped spaces. Far from being bare, these pickups were loaded with amenities and entertainment tech.

Inquirer Motoring recently picked the brains of automotive company executives whose pickups are slugging it out in the local market: Chevrolet Philippines, Nissan Philippines, Ford Philippines, Isuzu Philippines and Toyota Motor Philippines.

For lawyer Alberto B. Arcilla, Chevrolet Philippines’ president and managing director, pickups now rival passenger cars in terms of passenger capacity, creature comforts and refinement.

“This has transformed the profile of the typical buyer from just 10 years ago, from a business/fleet buyer purchasing a utilitarian goods carrier, to an SME owner/operator or professional (e.g., architect, engineer, contractor) looking for a multipurpose vehicle to serve both family and business needs.

“There is also now a cohort of buyers who purchase TOTL pickup variants as a lifestyle-enabling vehicle (e.g., for recreational activities such as trailing/offroading, wakeboarding, surfing, jetskiing, mountaineering, scuba diving),” said Arcilla.

Ramesh Narasimhan, Nissan Philippines Inc.’s president and managing director, said: “In the past, the buyer profile of pickups were those who were looking for a utility vehicle that they can primarily use as a workhorse. However in the recent years, we saw a shift in customer behavior.

“We see now that there are more customers that buy the vehicle because of its versatility, using it for everyday driving and lifestyle activities in the weekend.”

Rodel Gallega, Ford Philippines’ vice president for marketing and sales, said: “Currently, pickup trucks appeal mostly to the male audience where they see a pickup truck with dual purpose: for business and for leisure.

“They lead an active lifestyle-they work hard and play hard. This has changed over the last few years where pickup trucks appealed to customers who are mostly in the working segment.

“Now, the pickup truck is seen as an enabler in pursuing passions and interests outside the workplace.”

Nora Lagunias Liquido, Isuzu Philippines Corporation’s corporate communication manager, said that businessmen are the primary buyers of her company’s pickup, followed by engineers and contractors.

“With the utilitarian image of the Isuzu D-Max, it is a given that one of the biggest shareholders in its market are customers who are businessmen. Testament to the reliability of a pickup truck to support businesses, businessmen customers have captured the biggest percentage share among other customers in the industry.

“With a 64-percent share, the entry level was the main choice of this segment. On the other hand, engineers and contractors also registered a sizable amount of share with the mid-tier variant appearing to be the preference.”

Miko Berlin Hernandez, Toyota Motor Philippines’ group head of public relations and digital marketing, said that the primary profile of pickup buyers are Class AB, 35-44 years old, mostly male with about P100,000 monthly income.

Hernandez described the primary reasons for buying pickups: for business, utility, and for leisure.

“These individuals are always active and on the go. The taste of Filipinos has evolved into the more emotional aspect wherein the vehicle’s design/looks is a major consideration for their purchase. This is also the same case in the pickup segment,” said Hernandez.

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