Why cars disappear from the market

The “desaparecidos”


Through the years, vehicle makers and distributors in the Philippines have changed their nameplate lineup with no warning to the public, leaving vehicle owners models that quickly lose their resale value and a diminished service support because of dwindling spare parts.

Whenever a new car model is launched, no one can tell how many years it will be sold in any given market or country.

Car models that disappear from the market with no forewarning at all, can be called “los desaparecidos,” or “the disappeared.”

Cars disappear from the market for a number of reasons that manufacturers or distributors prefer not to reveal, but logically the primary reason is declining sales.

Consumers, who bought a “desaparecido” when it was newly launched and aggressively advertised, end up with a car that has a very low resale value aside from a dwindling supply of spare parts.

It isn’t so traumatic if the “desaparecido” was only actually retired and replaced by an improved, full model change bearing a new badge in the same market segment.

Examples: the Toyota Revo was replaced by the Innova in the Asian utility vehicle segment; and the Nissan Bluebird and Cefiro in the midsize executive sedan segment by the Teana and now by the Altima (at least in the Philippine market, since the third generation Teana 2013-2018 is still sold in other countries).

Some of the “desaparecidos” as of this date in the Philippines are: Ford Lynx, Chevrolet Optra, Chevrolet Orlando, Chevrolet Sonic, Nissan Sentra, Nissan Grand Livina, Mitsubishi Endeavor, Mitsubishi Adventure, Mitsubishi Fusion, Isuzu Crosswind, Isuzu Alterra, Mazda Tribute, Mazda CX-7, Kia Carens, Kia Forte, Hyundai i10, Hyundai i30, Hyundai i20 Cross Sport, Volvo C30.

A few of the above are sometimes still seen on the road, like the Nissan Grand Livina, Kia Carens, Chevrolet Orlando and Isuzu Crosswind.

The Mitsubishi Adventure and Isuzu Crosswind were withdrawn from the local market after the Euro 4 emissions standard took effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. is reportedly replacing the Adventure with the Xpander, a Euro 4-compliant multipurpose vehicle (MPV).

Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. is launching the Rush compact MPV this May. Does it signal the eventual disappearance of the Avanza, which the Rush resembles?

The Nissan Sentra, which has a longer history than the Toyota Vios in the local market, was replaced by the Nissan Almera (or is it the pricier Sylphy?) when Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI) began operations in March 2014 as the brand’s sole national sales company for the Philippines, unifying Universal Motors Corp. and Yulon Philippines Investment Co. Ltd. under one umbrella with Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. of Japan as the controlling stakeholder.

Speculation regarding the future of Ford passenger cars as “desaparecidos” arose when Ford Philippines managing director Bert Lassard told a media roundtable conference last month that the Fiesta and Focus may be phased out in order to concentrate on Ford’s best-selling SUVs and pickup trucks.

Here are memoirs of a few “desaparecidos”:

Kia Carens and Forte

Kia Motors Corporation globally launched the 7-seater Carens in 1999 equipped with either a gasoline or a diesel engine, but the gas variant was dropped in 2009 due to slow sales.

Badged as the Kia Rondo in other markets, the Carens was offered at Kia dealerships in the Philippines until 2012.

In 2007, the CRDi Carens (turbo diesel 2.0-liter, 140 hp, 341 Nm max torque) was awarded the Compact Van of the Year trophy by the Car Awards Group, Inc. (CAGI) in Manila.

2012 was the last year that the Carens was available internationally.

The Kia Forte was introduced in 2010 as a 4-door compact sedan and sporty 2-door coupe.

In 2011, a 5-door hatchback, the Forte5, with a 6-speed automatic transmission was introduced.

A 2018 version of the Forte is available in other markets, but Columbian Autocar Corp., the Philippine distributor of Kia, has dropped the Forte from its list of vehicles.

Mazda Tribute and Mazda CX-7

The Mazda Tribute was a front wheel drive compact SUV produced by Mazda Motor Corp. from 2000 to 2011.

Based on the Mazda 626 platform, the Tribute resembled the Ford Escape, and was just as fuel-thirsty, which wasn’t surprising since it was jointly developed by Mazda with Ford Motor Co., which owned a controlling 33 percent stake in Mazda at that time.

The Tribute’s suspension was tuned for a firmer ride than the Escape’s to fit Mazda’s sporty zoom-zoom image.

In the Asia/Pacific region, the Mazda CX-7 replaced the Tribute around 2011.

However, the CX-7 itself was eventually phased out by Mazda in favor of the more fuel-efficient CX-5 SkyActiv.

Bermaz Auto Philippines, Inc., the Philippine importer and distributor of Mazda, no longer includes the CX-7 among the vehicles it sells.

Nissan Grand Livina

Launched in Indonesia for the Asean market in 2008, the Nissan Grand Livina was offered in either 5- or 7-seater variants.

The Grand Livina was created to challenge the Toyota Innova, the best-selling MPV in the Asean region.

It was powered by a 1.8-liter VVT gasoline engine producing 125 hp and 174 Nm max torque.

It provided a carlike ride, but was smaller, its ground clearance was not high enough to tackle rough roads. It had no diesel variant.

When Nissan Philippines, Inc. took over the Nissan brand in 2014, the Grand Livina was no longer listed in its roster of vehicles.

Production of the Grand Livina was discontinued in 2015.

Chevrolet Orlando

Although it is a handsome, solid-looking 7-seater SUV, the Chevrolet Orlando was disadvantaged by its low ground clearance and having no diesel variant like the Nissan Grand Livina.

Based on the platform of the Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan, the 1.8-liter gasoline-fed Orlando was unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and 2009 North American International Auto Show.

In 2011, General Motors launched the Orlando for global markets.

In March 2015, after only a four-year run, GM Canada discontinued the Orlando due to sharply decreasing sales.

As late as August 2017, a local Chevy dealer still had the Orlando on his sales list.

But The Covenant Car Company, Inc., the Philippine importer and distributor of Chevrolet vehicles, has deleted the Orlando and the Sonic subcompact from its roster.

Volvo C30

The Volvo C30 concept was revealed at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show, and its final production model as a 3-door hatchback was displayed at the 2006 Paris Motor Show.

Equipped with a 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder DOHC gasoline engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission, the Volvo C30 seats four and won the Philippine Car of the Year award in 2007.

However, in June 2012, following a life span of just seven years, the C30 was axed by Geely Holding Group, the Chinese multinational carmaker that acquired Volvo from Ford Motor Co. in 2010.

Although critics say the C30 failed to be practical and user-friendly, and lacked dynamic verve, it is nevertheless a gorgeous upmarket niche car, and its market value as a collector’s item should rise through the years.

That should offer some consolation for those who bought and still own a “desaparecido” Volvo C30.

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