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Friday, February 1, 2013

Why car sales in RP are down?

Look at the figures and it tells a very sad fact---car sales are down in the Philippines. Two things: First, are Filipinos so hard-pressed that they are postponing their purchases and sticking to their own cars inspite of knowing that it is more expensive to maintain them? Or, car purchase behavior have shifted from buying brand news to the grey market or the secondary market?

I just read an article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that it is best to buy a second hand car instead of a new one. One reason is price. Cars being sold in the secondary market are 20 to 30% cheaper than brand new cars. The writer said---why pay 10% or 20% EXTRA for a brand new car when you can buy one less?

I always buy brand new cars because I believe in one thing---convenience for the next 1 to 2 years. I had this impression that I will not get headaches driving a brand new car for at least 1 to 2 years because every single part of that car is brand new.

Lately, however, there is a shift in the thinking of passenger car customers.

Credit that to a slew of articles announcing the recall of this model and that model and it happened across the board. Meaning, every, single reputable car brand here in the Philippines have had their own share of recalls.

Example--Honda. For the love of me, a decade ago, and it is unthinkable for Honda to experience recalls. Honda is a luxury car brand here, and some people I know have shifted because of those recalls.

Toyota had its share of recalls, especially in the luxury SUV segment. That news of Prados being recalled in the States, and news coming from Japan on the recall of other Toyota brands formed a perception that, these Japanese car manufacturers are not that exacting when it comes to their jobs anymore. Japanese car brands are known for their performance and sheer beauty. Now, the opposite perception is the prevalent or ascendant thinking.

Hyundai's Starex had its share of rumours about its mechanical problems and of Starex models suffering from "heat strokes" because of a small radiator. Now, Hyundai said they already fixed the bug but this fact had already made a big impression on customers. I credit Hyundai though because it came up with superb models such as the Accent and the Elantra, electrifying the passenger car segment with these mechanical wonders, thereupon, salvaging Hyundai's reputation. Now, people are talking about how fast and how efficient Hyundai cars are because of these models, Accent, Elantra, Santa Fe and Tucson.

There were several complaints about Mitsubishi Montero and how this car model suddenly accelerates from 0 to 80 kph---magically, causing some "accidents". I don't know if Mitsubishi already corrected the problem but I think it is more of the drivers' lack of knowledge about the Montero. There are several models really of this SUV that has this feature. But this feature should be used not in urban streets but in rural areas.

Of course, who does not know Ford's "found on road dead" thing or Suzuki's car tubes. Suzuki, for its credit, unleashed a wonderful beast in the passenger car section while Ford's Focus continues to astound car enthusiasts.

Mazda, the workhorse in all of these car brands, is silently making a dent in the local car scene. Its Mazda 2 and 3s, and 6,s and its SUVs, the CX-6 and CX-9's, though expensive, but, definitely worth every man's hard-earned cent.

I haven't heard anything yet about Chevies except that some would not buy them because they are American cars and there is this impression that American car brands are inferior than Asian car brands. I don't know about you, but Chevrolet's car models are making a huge killing especially in the younger set, with its futuristic look and fantastic dashboards. They have this Sonic car model, which I intend to look and see tomorrow.

Honestly, I dispute what that fellow journalist wrote about cars. It is time to buy brand new cars. What probably hinders some people from doing so, is another recall news. And they fear that the next one would probably be theirs.

Hence, it is highly important for these car brands to manage their reputations and brand images. They also need to improve their post-sales services, so that things like recalls will never ever frighten prospects like me.