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As Toyota and Mitsubishi set pace, three contenders are chasing the third spot

Automotive industry players are competing in a game like basketball – each brand tries to score more points than the other to make it to the finals.  But in this country’s league of motor vehicles, the championship trophy has long been held by Toyota, with Mitsubishi as the perennial honorable runner-up.
The situation leaves the other players aspiring for third place.  Lately, despite vehicle sales dampened by the world’s longest series of quarantine restrictions, there has been plenty of action on the floor among those aiming to be No. 3.
This is because the 3rd spot looks suddenly more reachable.  For a long time – nine consecutive years to be exact, from 2010 to 2019 – it was in the grip of the PH distributor of Hyundai.  But in mid-2019, Nissan PH, Inc. (NPI) outscored the Korean brand and relegated Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI) to 4th place.  
NPI has occupied the No. 3 perch for over a year now.  However, NPI’s perch looks vulnerable now that three players have successfully dislodged HARI from No. 4 and blocked the Korean brand from rebounding to the Magic 5 circle.  In the process, the front runners dribbled the ball closer to the paint.
FORD’S THREE-POINTER. This is how it went:  In January 2021, 6th placer Ford Motor Co. PH, Inc. drained a three-pointer  over 5th placer Suzuki PH, Inc. (SPI) and No. 4 HARI to grab 4th place from HARI.
SPI sealed HARI’s exit from the Magic 5 circle by scoring 226 more unit sales than HARI and thus retained 5th place.
Pushed down to 6th place, HARI’s position was further endangered by 7th placer Honda Cars PH, Inc. (HCPI), which was only 24 units behind in January sales scored.
The playoff came last month, February 2021.  HCPI scored 2,847 unit sales while HARI scored 2,417.  The difference was merely 70 units, but enough for HCPI to replace HARI at No. 6. As of year-to-date February 2021, HARI was No. 7, a long drop from its former No. 3 perch.
NISSAN SCORES LOWER. Meanwhile, if we go by unit sales scored month-on-month, NPI looks vulnerable.  In January 2021, NPI sold 2,321 vehicles, but last month, its score declined by 1,002 units to 1,319.
Compare that score to Ford’s 1,769 units sold last month versus 1,720 in January. YTD, Ford sold a total of 151 units less than NPI, but hey, in January Ford outsold SPI and HARI by 164 units and 390 units, respectively.
Among the Magic 5 in February 2021 (the month only, not YTD), Ford outsold NPI by 450 units and SPI by 256 units.  For that matter, NPI scored the lowest number of sales in February among the Magic 5 with 1,319, that’s why its No. 3 position appears to be at risk.
Will launching the all-new Navara Pro-X enable NPI to make a fast break?  Or will Ford’s almost simultaneous intro of the Ranger FX4 Max block NPI?
Incidentally,  SPI is the other up-and-coming Magic 5 player who outscored 3rd placer NPI last month with 1,513 units sold versus NPI’s 1,319.  Recognized worldwide as a specialist in the design and manufacture of small automobiles, Suzuki is holding its own versus the other four players in the Magic 5 who all produce big pickup trucks and SUVs.
TOP FIVE’S BEST-SELLERS. The Toyota Hilux is still the market leader in the pickup truck segment, but the recent launching of all-new iterations of the Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger, and Isuzu D-Max may cut into the Hilux’s market share.  The Wigo looks like it has cornered the mini subcompact hatchback segment.
The only two participants in the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS), the Toyota Vios and Mitsubishi Mirage, are still among their respective brands’ best-sellers.  The Vios stays as the country’s best-selling motor car overall, across all segments.
The 7-seater Xpander MPV with its sharply sculpted façade is a surprising success for Mitsubishi PH.  Let’s see if it lasts as long as the L300 in the brand’s best-seller list.
In the midsize truck-based SUV category, the Nissan Terra (built on the Navara platform) is outselling the Ford Everest (Ranger platform) big time.  In fact, the compact, made-in-China crossover, the Territory, is a runaway success, outselling the Everest by 756 units. Nissan’s entry-level compact sedan, the Almera, which used to be produced here, is still listed as an NPI best-seller.
In February, Suzuki grabbed market share with the budget-priced S-Presso crossover and the versatile Carry commercial mini truck.  As a mini subcompact crossover, the S-Presso has no competitor, unless the Ford EcoSport is still in the market.  The attractive 7-seater Ertiga compact MPV carries on as Suzuki’s topmost best-seller.

GEELY’S STAYING POWER.  In February 2021, Sojitz G Auto PH (SGAP), the distributor of Geely motor vehicles, replaced Foton Motor PH, Inc. as the only Chinese brand in the Top 10.  SGAP achieved this by scoring more unit sales (780) than Kia (648 units sold), which is now distributed by KP Motors Corp. instead of Adventure Cycle PH, Inc. (ACPI).  Both KP Motors and ACPI are part of Ayala’s AC Motors.
SGAP first entered the Top 10 with YTD January 2021 sales of 330 units, down from 520 units sold in December 2020, but still enough to take 9th place from Foton Motor.
By ramping up sales YTD February 2021 to 780 units, SGAP retained the No. 9 spot while Kia  slid from 8th place in January 2021 to 10th place, in the process eliminating Foton Motor from the Top 10.
SGAP’s sales performance so far looks like the newcomer is in the Top 10 to stay.  

SUMMING UP.  The reshuffling of the Top 10 players in February 2021, after the January 2021 scrambling of the Top 10 rankings, makes each month’s sales report released by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the PH, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors, Inc. (AVID) things to look forward to.  They prove that the PH auto industry is alive and kicking despite the gloom generated by the lockdown economy and the imposition of safeguard duties on imported vehicles.



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