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The spotlight is on mobility for 2023

The spotlight is on mobility for 2023

As a former automotive executive, I’ve had the privilege of seeing how the industry works. I’ve had first-hand experience when times were great and when lows were low.

In the last two years, the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns threw a monkey wrench into the well-oiled car-selling machine just as the industry was recovering from the effects of the TRAIN law that likewise cut growth. But now, some brands are reporting sales figures that have already exceeded their 2019 levels.

Where will 2023 take the industry and motoring, for that matter? Here are some predictions we hope will guide us in making timely and appropriate decisions in the year ahead.

The arrival of China-EVs

If there’s one thing that continues to hinder the acceptance of electric vehicles in the country, it is high retail prices. But that’s about to change when President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. signs an executive order that will effectively bring import duties of EVs down to 0 percent.

Manufacturers and business people are waiting for the right time to introduce more affordable EVs from China. And a change in tax rates might be what the market is hoping to happen.

With EV sales projected to reach a 1.68% market share in 2022, up from 0.31% in 2021, the global EV trend is gaining a foothold in the country. So expect the legacy car makers not to sit idly by.

Carmakers to go deeper into the used car game

Why are carmakers now engaging in the used car reselling business? With banks making it difficult for the average Juan to buy a brand-new car, brands and their dealers are looking into trade-ins and reselling pre-owned vehicles to keep their brand-new car sales quotas intact.

More B-segment MPVs, fewer pickups

Subcompact MPVs are the in-thing right now. And with excise tax exemptions for pickups reportedly on the way out, the affordable MPV may become the market’s new darling. Their versatility, more effortless drivability, smaller size, and of course, lower price make them more suited to the tight confines of the city and for small families on a budget.

SUVs will still rule

Unfortunately, bad roads and flooding will continue to be a constant fixture in the year to come. That’s why SUVs, in their various forms, such as crossovers, 7-seaters, unibody, and ladder frames, will still be a market favorite. The pending arrival of the all-new Toyota Innova might take a sizeable bite off the Fortuner, Montero, and Everest sales pie, though, as people now realize comfort is one Unique Selling Proposition they don’t want to trade for wading depth and utility.

More traffic

With car sales on the rise, however, we can only expect more traffic along major thoroughfares. If you think the Christmas holiday rush is terrible, wait until it becomes a year-long, 24/7 affair in the year to come.

Instability of fuel prices

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is not yet over. And with various geopolitical machinations that can affect oil and fuel prices, we should prepare for a return of the worst when it comes to pump prices. Will EVs be the answer? Not if electricity prices continue to be high and supply continues to be spotty, especially this coming summer.

Korean invasion

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A Free Trade Agreement between the Philippines and South Korea is set to take effect in 2023. With Hyundai Motor Group reportedly eyeing to introduce cheap, affordable electric vehicles soon, 2023 could be an excellent time to make them available here.

More clamor from active transport advocates

Valenzuela City now allows motorcycles to use bicycle lanes along MacArthur highway from Monday to Friday. Provided motorcycles can only travel at a maximum speed of 20kph. Other cities might follow suit, assuming this accommodation works.

But expect bicycle advocates to fight this. It’s already difficult enough to ride in peace and safety along exclusive, unprotected bike lanes, and legally opening them up to heavier and faster motorcycles might open Pandora’s box of incidents.

Next year seems to be a make-or-break year for active mobility evangelists as car numbers continue to increase, expect every piece of road to be fought over.

Key personnel movements across brands

Yes, the automotive industry is growing. And it seems that more car brands are interested in the country’s potential and propensity to buy cars. There is still a myriad of brands that have not set up shop in the country. And if ever they see 2023 as the ideal time to come in, mid-level car company executives might get lucrative offers to jump ship.

Does 2023 look like a banner year for the automotive industry? Today’s sales numbers would seem to suggest so. However, a safer, more convenient and comfortable mobility for all continues to look elusive. We can only remain vigilant so that the greater interest of the majority will prevail. Happy holidays to all!