Show motion

WHAT BETTER way to underscore the return of auto industry to health than with a most literal show of force?

Notwithstanding its official theme “Mobility + Humanity: Innovating for the Common Good,” the 8th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) was possibly, primarily, a proof of life and vigor. The biennial auto show, organized by the companies comprising the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, had to understandably scrap its scheduled 2020 staging on account of the then rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.

It came roaring back beginning last Thursday and through the weekend, filling the World Trade Center in Pasay City with the familiar sights and sounds attendant to a car show.

“We can attest that (the past) four years have been challenging, to say the least. Almost all sectors of society experienced major setbacks due to the impact of the pandemic, and the auto industry is no exception. Thankfully, we are able to show resilience and resourcefulness as we strive to maintain the industry’s contribution to economic growth and to address the shifting demands of consumers,” said CAMPI President Atty. Rommel Gutierrez in a speech ahead of the show’s opening.

The “shifting demand of consumers” the CAMPI head spoke of may well be the burgeoning public appetite for electrified vehicles. With many large automakers declaring an eventual hard stop in purely internal-combustion-engine-powered vehicles, more Filipinos are finally taking a serious look at these offerings which have begun to trickle into the country at a greater rate.

EV models mostly took the limelight at PIMS 2022, and one certainly hopes that these and more their ilk with find resonance with car browsers — and eventually make it onto their consideration set.

The Nissan Leaf, widely known as the Philippine auto industry’s first mover in the pure-electric vehicle space, shared the PIMS floor with the BMW iX, Kia EV6, and Hyundai Ionic 5. If we enlarge the set further to include electrified (hybrid) options, the list grows exponentially as all featured brands basically had hybrids in their portfolio.

Even if we take away the prohibitive, unstable cost of fuel, the electric writing is on the wall — and with time it will inevitably be harder to ignore.

For even if the Philippines is behind many of its more affluent neighbors in terms of both per-capita mobility and readiness for electrification, public policy and private efforts have started to lay down more comprehensive (and solid) groundwork upon which we can more realistically and feasibly build our aspiration to electrify our mobility.

But first things first. It’s important to give the auto industry in general the attention and support it needs. With the country’s economy continuing to open up, things are clearly looking up for our tale of mobility — even when framed within a chip and parts shortage hobbling the global outlook. The throngs who flocked to PIMS surely give rise to the belief that the popular desire for a new set of wheels is still there, and was merely pushed into the background.

Year 2022 has so far certainly been, fingers crossed, just what the doctor ordered. “After consecutive months of double-digit growth in 2022, we are very pleased to report a 25.1% increase in year-to-date sales and a 90.5% year-on-year growth recorded in August. (This) brings us to 67.5% of our annual target. This impressive performance brings our year-to-date sales back to the pre-pandemic sales level and also confirms that the industry’s recovery is indeed on track,” concluded Atty. Gutierrez.