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For Isuzu Philippines Corp, the adverse impact of the CoViD-19 pandemic on its operations and sales has been somewhat cushioned by the extraordinary performance of its cab-and-chassis segment. Ironically, the high demand for such commercial vehicles may be due to the same conditions that have made it hard for many other car segments to move.

IPC president Hajime Koso explains: “Compared to the total demand from January to July of 2019, only the cab-and-chassis segment had doubled during the same period this year. I think this is due to the increase in small-lot ‘last-mile delivery’ logistics during the CoViD-19 pandemic.”

He added that the introduction of its latest LCV (light commercial vehicle) Traviz in November 2019 also helped IPC gain the necessary foothold in the market just before the automotive market entered the community quarantine stages.

“We steadily increased our market share with 20 percent in June, and 30 percent in July. We expect the Traviz to be our ‘silver bullet’ for the remainder of 2020,” Koso quipped during the Aug. 7 online launch of the Isuzu Pagadian dealership.

Whatever the outcome in the cab-and-chassis segment, the automotive business experience this year will be one truly bitter pill to swallow.

“The industry forecasts about a 40-percent decline compared to 2019. Banks are implementing stricter approval processes for loans, and that greatly affects our sales. Hopefully, the above-average outlook for the cab-and-chassis (Category 2) can bring in more sales, since we still see businesses being able to cope and adapt to the situation, especially those in the logistics and agriculture industries,” Koso said.

Koso is optimistic that the 2nd half of 2020 will outperform the first half.

“Based on the industry outlook, we are looking at better figures, since the government realizes the need to restart the economy by letting companies operate under strict safety protocols. It will be far from our original forecast for 2020, but better than the first half.”

The active south

With the worst of the pandemic concentrated in the National Capital Region and neighboring provinces, IPC has set its sights to the south to continue its aggressive expansion and modernization efforts. Last July 8, it held the formal groundbreaking ceremony for its Isuzu Davao dealership in Matina in Davao City. Less than a month later, IPC followed that up by opening its 43rd dealership and third Isuzu Outlet Standardization (IOS) dealership facility, this time in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur.

In ceremonies streamed online to the motoring media Aug. 7, IPC and dealership principal North-Min Automotive Dealership Inc (NMADI) presented a walk-through of Isuzu Pagadian at Barangay Tiguma, one of the rapidly developing commercial and agricultural locations in the city.

To serve as a satellite of Isuzu Butuan, Isuzu Pagadian showcases a total floor space of 3,871 sqm that will include a 4-vehicle showroom display, service bays that can accommodate five LCVs and two commercial vehicles, a wash bay and wheel alignment facility, and five slots for body repair and paint works.

The IOS-standard Isuzu Pagadian will enhance the overall customer journey, highlighting an aesthetic, functional design that not only provides a more spacious and organized area for its users, but expresses Isuzu’s new brand identity and its long-standing reputation for durable and reliable products. The new facilities will also contribute greatly to a more seamless automotive retail experience for both customers and dealership personnel.

Isuzu Pagadian general manager George Ongchua described Isuzu as a “renowned automotive brand” in Mindanao.

“Isuzu trucks and light commercial vehicles have proven time and again that they are perfectly suited to the varying and challenging terrains and road conditions of Mindanao,” he said.

Ongchua added that his team is “very confident that the good reputation of the Isuzu brand in the region will be extended to its dealership services”.