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For many years, the local automotive industry had been enjoying a bumper crop season after another, breaking sales records in its so-called “golden age of motorization”.

They never saw CoViD-19 coming. And when it did early this year, it looked like a drum of ice water was dumped over a raging bonfire. The pandemic halted the seemingly relentless march of motorization, forcing companies to go back to the drawing boards and assess the damages wrought, as well as to re-draw strategies to hit the ground running again.

Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary solutions. Inquirer Motoring has asked car makers and distributors what their unconventional solutions have been to motivate their customers to buy their brands again.

VIRTUAL@Honda

Honda Cars Philippines Inc (HCPI) will offer beginning this August its Virtual Dealerships Online Transaction, or Virtual@Honda, Honda’s own version of the contactless car purchase, car maintenance, and repairs. Through this platform, customers will be able to conduct different activities virtually—at the comfort and safety of their homes. Honda will make the online features of Virtual@Honda easy to remember, via the acronym “VIRTUAL”: Visit online, Inspect the cars inside and out with a 360-degree camera, Reserve vehicles and secure service appointments, Test drive schedule, Unit availability query, Access accounts, and Live chat with a sales consultant.

Honda also offers its Auto Loan Link Page (at the HCPI website). This would provide an easier and safer way for customers to apply for an auto loan with Honda’s official bank partners. In the website, there is a separate auto loan page with a list of various participating banks which the customers may choose from. Once a customer selects the bank, he or she will be immediately directed to the bank’s auto loan website. This helps customers conveniently purchase a car even while staying at home.

Toyota financing goes all-out

The country’s leading carmaker Toyota Motor Philippines is pulling out all the stops to get the local automotive economy moving again.

MyToyota PH (mytoyota.ph) enables Toyota owners to book their service appointments, get notified of upcoming scheduled appointments, access job items and service cost estimates. The virtual showroom (Toyota.com.ph/showroom), on the other hand, gives customers the full dealership experience in a digital platform. Customers can view their preferred model’s interior and exterior 360-degrees, check out product brochures and videos, calculate payment terms, and submit their information to be connected to their preferred dealer.

Its “Better Days Ahead” promo for June offers flexible financing schemes and discounts, value-for-money offers with additional services such as free Periodic Maintenance Service or Bactaklenz vehicle interior sanitation treatment, and trade-in rebates.

Toyota Financial Services (TFS) is offering its lighter payment holiday promo for frontliners. Doctors, nurses, medical employees, police, and military are eligible for a lower down payment, and they won’t have to pay their first monthly amortization until two months later. In a statement, TMP said: “We would like to express our gratitude to our frontliners’ hard work and sacrifice through promos like these which make their car purchase even lighter.”

TFS will also be launching the Toyota Connected Auto Loan, which gives customers more chances of being approved by having a connected device in their vehicle once they purchase.

Another option to own a Toyota-branded vehicle would be the Toyota Certified Used Vehicles (TCUV) service, wherein TFS would provide financing packages for secondhand Toyota vehicles.

Last but not the least, TMP will soon offer a car subscription service, also via TFS, called Kinto. The Kinto facility does not require any down payment. With just a deposit, customers can avail of selected vehicles that will be part of the program. There will be four pilot models for the Kinto program, and this will be introduced in Metro Manila dealers and launched within the month, according to TMP First Vice President for Brand and Product Planning Cluster Cristina Arevalo who discussed it during the June 15 Wigo virtual launch.

MG PH’s big discounts, 0 down

MG Philippines offers Zero down payment or a P110,000 cash discount for its top-of-the-line subcompact sedan 2020 MG 5 AT Alpha. The MG 5 is available in four variants, with the SRP starting at P658,888, or P603,888 for cash purchases.

MG 5 owners will enjoy MG Philippines’ signature aftersales complement, including a 5-year/100,000km warranty, one-year free PMS, and access to 24/7 emergency services.

MG Philippines also navigates the new normal with online aftersales services such as the MG Online Garage Service for remote vehicle consultations, and MG Click n’ Drive for direct online inquiries.

Hyundai ‘Homerun’

Hyundai’s current sales promo, the HOMERUN (Hyundai Owning Made Easy, Ready to Unlock Next Normal), makes customers bring home a Tucson at P12,123 monthly (for 60 months), or a Santa Fe at zero interest for five years with 20 percent down payment, or the Grand Starex for an P18,750 down payment.

These offers are available at the HOMEPage (Hyundai Online Market Experience)—the online platform of Hyundai Asia Resources Inc (Hari) designed to help customers with their quotations, loan applications, and online purchases of Hyundai vehicles in the comfort of their homes.

Lazada shoppers can also opt for the sales promo. For a reservation fee of just P1,000, HOMEpage offers convenient access to more affordable and flexible down payments and monthly rates on the promo’s featured models.

The promo is in partnership with BDO, BPI Family Savings Bank, and RCBC, and runs until June 30.

LICA Auto Group’s 0 down for online purchases

Tey Sornet, COO of LICA Auto Group, disclosed one of the company’s many offers to make it easy for people to purchase cars.

“We offer promos such as the low down payment and zero down payment. There are also a lot of vehicle models that are smaller and compact in design and is tagged at a more reasonable selling price. We also make it easier for our clients to reach us since we opened our doors online. We have been in online selling for three months now, and every step of the buying process can be done without the need to frequently visit the dealership. All these measures are implemented for consumer protection and safety, at the same time, to make sure that we still continue the business,” he said.

“We consider our products as one of the essentials in different aspects. For one, public transport is still on a limited capacity and though it is available, the commuting public still would not want to take that risk to use this transport means to travel. There’s an opportunity for us the automotive dealer to give this option to the public, highlighting that now is the best and right time to buy a vehicle for their safety, comfort and convenience. Secondly, the demand for a vehicle with big space and enough capacity to load goods and merchandise for delivery and transfer is also essential during these times. Again, this is another area where we can offer vehicles in response to these needs. People might think that owning a vehicle, although considered a need, may require them to shell out a significant amount. We want our customers to think differently, especially in these times. Car manufacturers and distributors, in support to their dealer network, make it more affordable now to own and acquire a vehicle,” Sornet explained.