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If there’s a silver lining to this long drawn-out public health crisis of a pandemic for automotive manufacturers and dealers, it’s that the pick-up and utility van segments are picking up, thanks largely to the growing demand for online and delivery services, as many Filipinos opt to stay in and have goods or services delivered to their homes.

This was the observation of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp (MMPC) president and CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri, in a recent interview with Inquirer Motoring.

He also revealed that most buyers of pick-ups and vans purchase outright in cash.

“For the Mitsubishi brand, we saw a strong potential for the pick-ups and utility vans. The good sales of the Xpander can be attributed to the relaunch campaign of its new variant the Xpander Cross. Due to the limited public transportation brought by the various community quarantine, it created a demand for a personal vehicle to use during this time. An eased up community quarantine would result to improved sales as our customers will gain easier access to our showrooms. July sales improved significantly due to the transition from modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) to general community quarantine (GCQ),” said Oshikiri.

MMPC announced Aug. 12 that its company experienced a significant increase in retail sales for the month of July with 3,149 units sold—a 39-percent improvement over June sales. All Mitsubishi models registered sales increases. The Xpander sold the most with 1,038, reflecting a 63-percent improvement over June, while the Strada registered a 58-percent month on month growth.

“We at MMPC appreciate the significant sales improvement achieved in July, not just for the Mitsubishi brand but for the entire automotive industry. The progress represents the commendable capability of the Philippine market to adapt during these trying times. We hope that the strong momentum will continue and we at MMPC will strive harder to provide better offerings both in sales and aftersales service. Despite the very challenging situation that we are facing, MMPC remains optimistic and inspired to serve our customers,” Oshikiri stressed.

While the sales of MMPC’s utility vehicles and pick-ups has been on the upswing, Oshikiri sees sales for the rest of the product lineup will eventually catch up.

“Demand for entry-level or small passenger cars is still very much there, as we continued to receive a lot of inquiries in June and July. However, there has been a bit of a slowdown on financing purchases. We anticipate that the entry-level segment will pick up once the pandemic situation improves,” Oshikiri said.

To help sales move along, MMPC is offering the “Head Start Promo” that provides free 2-month amortization for the Mitsubishi Xpander and Mirage G4. The “Mid-Year Low Down” promo, on the other hand, offers low downpayment plans for the Strada, L300, and Mirage. The Montero Sport 4WD GT is also included in the mid-year promo for as low as P98,000 downpayment, or savings of as much as P230,000 for cash buyers, or 0% downpayment for 36 months.

“These promos are definitely helping generate sales. However, we cannot fully say that it will result to the same numbers pre-CoViD-19. To regain the same level as before relies on how soon the pandemic can be contained and how fast the economy can recover,” Oshikiri added.

As far as an industry-wide recovery is concerned, Oshikiri believes Filipinos can pull it off. “As we all continue to adapt to the current situation, our economy will gain improvements. It may be slow, but we believe in the resiliency of our nation and we are optimistic that we will be able to overcome this challenge.”

MMPC is one of the country’s leading automotive assemblers and distributors. With over a 50-year presence in the country, it is the longest-staying automotive company in the Philippines. Occupying 23 hectares in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, MMPC’s manufacturing plant has a maximum production capacity of 50,000 units. MMPC locally manufactures the Mirage, Mirage G4 and L300. For more information on MMPC, its product lineup and promos, log on to www.mmpc.ph.

IN PHOTO: The Xpander sold the most for Mitsubishi in July with 1,038 unit sales, reflecting a 63-percent improvement over June