Auto executives share their 2019 forecast

By Alvin Uy Philippine Daily Inquirer February 13,2019

The year 2018 was a year most of the folks in the auto industry were happy that it came and went. Burdened with economic worries like inflation and additional taxes, the automotive economy shrank by about 15 percent, or some 72,000 units, compared to 2017.

When asked for a statement from the country’s auto industry decision makers, most of them expressed an optimistic outlook for the new year.

Here’s a compilation of their fearless forecast, and how they intend to cope with a more competitive environment this election year.

Ramesh Narasimhan, Nissan Philippines president/managing director


Ramesh Narasimhan, Nissan Philippines president/managing director

“We are optimistic for 2019. The ongoing infrastructure development in the country and the higher overall spending from this year’s elections make us confident that the industry will achieve 10 percent growth this year.

“We are also looking forward to the industry adjusting from the economic challenges that were posed last year.

“As for Nissan, our optimism for 2019 comes from the momentum that we had from last year’s achievements.

“We have been growing on an average of 58.7 percent for the past three years, and we are entering 2019 energized.

“While we cannot discuss future products, we did unveil the 370Z Nismo and the Juke Nismo last October in the Philippine International Motorshow.

“We will continue to promote Nissan Intelligent Mobility as the key differentiator in our products.

“We currently have 44 dealerships around the country, and we are looking forward to expand to more areas, with already eight to ten dealerships in different stages of development for this year.”

Rommel Sytin, Foton Motors Philippines president


Rommel Sytin, Foton Motors Philippines president

“2019 will be exciting for the automotive industry and for the consumers as well.

“The upcoming mid-term elections will boost consumer spending in the first half of 2019.

“Another factor is the new models that will be launched this year, and the economic activities that will be brought about by the Build, Build, Build campaign of this administration.

“The industry is bound to recover this 2019. Consumers have adjusted to the impact of the excise tax on vehicle last year. The 4th quarter of 2018 is an indication that the industry is slowly recovering.

“Foton will ride on the momentum we generated for the last 11 years. We will introduce new models ranging from passenger vehicles to heavy duty trucks.

“We are also aggressive about the jeepney modernization program. We want to contribute and be a part of this major undertaking of the government.

“Foton is in expansion mode for 2019, and we want to sustain what we’ve gained for 2018.

“Gaining ninth place, from 12th place in the industry ranking, is a milestone achievement of Foton last year.”

Atty. Alberto Arcilla, The Covenant Car Company Inc. president and CEO

Chevrolet and MG

Atty. Alberto Arcilla, The Covenant Car Company Inc. president and CEO

“TCCCI entered 2019 with many new opportunities, and remains very positive that the automotive industry will experience a stronger year this 2019.

“Admittedly, 2018 was a challenging year for the whole automotive industry.

“However, towards the last quarter of 2018, we saw that the public adjusted to the new vehicle prices.

“With the recent host of highly competitive offers, new products, and a robust economy, we are confident that the industry will bounce back and experience a recovery and steady growth.

“We at TCCCI are set to continuously strengthen the Chevrolet brand and gain more momentum to set the stage for new product and service offers this 2019.

“We shall continue to provide the market with better and easier vehicle ownership options.”

Benedicto Coyiuto, Audi Philippines head


Benedicto Coyiuto, Audi Philippines head

“The industry is set to recover its stability, but ultimately it will be up to the various players to adjust to the new rules of the game.

“We have begun our promotional activities for Audi Philippines which enabled us to start the year with a good amount of momentum.

“It really boils down to going to the core of the selling process, an analysis of needs and finding the right tool for the job.

As mentioned, we’ve had a good start.

“We have just recently introduced the all-new Audi Q8, the impressive new face of the Audi SUV as well as the visceral Audi RS4 Avant. The year still holds multiple new model introductions, from our entry level offering to our executive and top tier Audi Sport range. There is a lot to be excited about.”

Bertrand Lessard, Ford Philippines managing director


Bertrand Lessard, Ford Philippines managing director

“For 2019, we will continue to offer world-class and quality vehicles, find ways to enhance customer and after-sales experience, and boost our dealership network to better serve our customers.”

Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. president and CEO


Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo, Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. president and CEO

“We expect double-digit growth for the local auto industry by the end of the year, having noted a positive relationship between industry performance and the growth of the economy.

“Still, we should exercise some caution. From the macroeconomic perspective, we understand that there will be upticks in the Philippine economy due to election-related spending, the expected slowdown of inflation, and the increase in government spending on infrastructure projects.

“However, these would only happen if the government would address delays in the execution of the programs and find ways to further invigorate local demand and investments.”

“We believe that all industry players are gearing towards a competitive year. Each one is expected to bring in new and innovative products and services that would pique the interest of the buying public.

“Hyundai is primed to compete head on.”

Francis Ang, Auto Nation Group COO


Francis Ang, Auto Nation Group COO

“We believe there will be better demand for vehicles in 2019, and we are hopeful that 2019 will have better market conditions that will allow the auto industry to recover from last year.

“Our focus is to introduce exciting new products to the market, and we’re happy to be serving a fast-growing number of customers who appreciate the luxury, performance, safety, and technologies of our vehicles, and how these fit their lifestyles.

“For two consecutive years now, Mercedes-Benz is the number one luxury car brand in the local market.

“We will build on this momentum by focusing on our customers and offering products that meet their various lifestyle needs.”

Raymond Rodriguez, Lexus Manila president


Raymond Rodriguez, Lexus Manila president

“We are expecting 2019 to be a better year, most especially for the luxury car market, since it was the most affected in 2018.

“We believe we should be able to sell more units than last year. We have a full range of Lexus models to suit the needs of our customers—sedans and SUVs, from compact to large-sized vehicles.

“We now have a full year to sell our new ES and UX models, most especially our hybrids—LS, NX and RX—which continue to sell very well (16 percent of total sales in 2018).”

“We expect the BSP to eventually relax their monetary policy once inflation shows signs of stabilizing. Thus, the local automotive industry will experience some lag at the beginning of 2019 but gain momentum as the year progresses.

First, we will continue to introduce competitive products, like the All-New Accent and the All- New Reina.

In 2019, HARI aims to be a staunch supporter of the government’s efforts at promoting the drive for sustainability through Hyundai’s hybrid and electric vehicles. The introduction of the Ioniq and the Kona hybrid and electric cars demonstrate our commitment to a green and sustainable future.

Looking at the big picture, the numbers of hybrid and EVs are insignificant but these are expected to change in the next five to ten years given all the developments in battery technology and the continued shift in consumer behavior, notwithstanding fluctuations in oil prices.

HARI will remain steadfast in sourcing the best possible partners that could offer the best possible product for the local market.

Second is the expansion of our dealership network and our investment in new retail strategies, riding on the new digital economy, as we expect the growing market of young and technically savvy consumers to shape new business models toward sustainability and convenience. The Philippine Statistics Authority reports that, as of 2015, almost half of employed Filipinos are millennials.

For instance, the launch of the Hyundai City Store (the first and only Hyundai City Store in Asia-Pacific) in Cebu City in November last year is just the beginning of more convenient and user-friendly Hyundai car shopping for our digital customers.

At the end of 2018, we remain the 3rd top-ranking automobile brand in terms of vehicle sales. To maintain our rank in 2019, we have introduced two new models in the past two months: the All- New Accent last December 6, 2018 at the SMX Convention Center and, very recently, the All- New Reina.

All our 42 dealerships are “3S,” that is, they cater to the Sales, Service, and Spare Parts requirements of our customers. We expect three more 3S dealerships to rise in 2019: Hyundai Angeles, Baguio and Butuan.

This year, we are also planning to open Hyundai City Stores in four new locations—three in Metro Manila and one in North Luzon.

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