Fearless Forecast: Philippine auto industry in 2023

January 2023 is almost coming to an end and we’ve already seen eight cars being launched locally. Indeed, the Philippine automotive industry is recovering and has started the year with a bang.

Suzuki drew its first blood by launching the mild hybrid version of the Ertiga MPV, which also came with an updated front fascia. Hyundai came next by bringing back the Palisade SUV local lineup, while GAC Motor Philippines, now under new distributor, Astara, has launched all-new models – the Empow compact sedan and GS8 SUV. Lexus ushered in the arrival of the next-generation RX during its opening ceremony inside the posh Mitsukoshi mall in BGC.

Honda, on the other hand, excited enthusiasts by doing a surprise reveal of the Civic Type R FL5, bringing the hidden fanboy out of everyone. BMW introduced the second EV in its lineup, the iX3, while Mitsubishi finally launches the facelifted version of the Xpander Cross to join the refreshed standard Xpander in the local lineup.

So, what’s next? What are the other vehicles to arrive in the Philippines this 2023? More importantly, what can you expect in the local automotive industry this year now that we’ve gone back to functioning normally?

Here’s a tell-all forecast from what we already know, as well as some predictions based on global trends and relative timelines.

Confirmed launches

Hyundai IONIQ 5

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, both electric SUVs from the corporate siblings, will be available for purchase in the Philippines in 2023. They were first showcased at the 2022 MIAS, and both have received numerous awards internationally. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 will have a starting price of P3.068 million, and the Kia EV6 will be priced under P4 million.

MG Philippines ended the year 2022 by previewing the GT compact sedan, arriving in showrooms in 2023. It features a 1.5-liter gasoline engine, with two different power outputs. The higher-powered version has a rating of 158hp and 250Nm of torque.

Meanwhile, two luxury brands are launching their respective models in February. The Aston Martin DBX707 will start with a high-octane debut, while the new Land Rover Range Rover Sport will arrive towards the end of the month.

Bentley Bentayga EWB

PGA Cars has hinted that the Bentley Bentayga EWB and Lamborghini Urus Performante are both arriving this year. BMW Philippines, on the other hand, will be launching three more EVs this year to reinforce its push for electrification.

Most likely to arrive but not confirmed

Several cars that have been released in other markets may be coming to the Philippines this year. Toyota had an exciting year in 2022 with the release of the GR Corolla five-door hot hatch in Thailand with a 1.6-liter turbo engine and all-wheel drivetrain, the third-generation Vios subcompact sedan built on a revamped Daihatsu-based platform, and the all-new Innova MPV with front-wheel drive and gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. All of these popular nameplates could arrive locally, but Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has yet to confirm so.

Likewise with the Lexus RZ. The Japanese luxury marque’s first all-electric model is anticipated to arrive this year but we have yet to know exactly when.

These models are also anticipated to be available in the Philippines soon. The next-generation Ford Ranger Raptor with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo gasoline V6 and 2.0-liter bi-turbo diesel options and the wildly popular second-generation Territory compact crossover with a new design and advanced technology. Subaru also released the third generation of the Crosstrek subcompact crossover in Japan, dropping the XV name globally. It features a 2.0-liter e-Boxer mild-hybrid powertrain, the latest version of Subaru EyeSight, and now has a front-wheel drive option available.

What’s in store in the local automotive industry?

With recent developments concerning electrification, we’re expecting 2023 to become the year of EVs, as with the rest of the world. 

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. signed Executive Order 12 this January, effectively removing the 30 percent import duties on electric vehicles and construction materials for charging infrastructures, among others, for the next five years. This is in line with the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA Law), which pushes for the electrification of the local auto industry.

EV charging stations at Shell service stations and major malls.

That said, we’re expecting a price drop among EVs, especially those that are currently being offered by car brands. The Nissan LEAF could be priced below P2 million, while the previously announced prices of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 could be priced more attractively to encourage the shift to battery-powered cars. Which types of electrified vehicles are included in this tax levy are yet to be determined, though.

Kia EV6

We can also expect manufacturers to bring their respective EVs into their lineups to take advantage of the newly signed EO. This is good for you as a consumer as the more models to choose from, the better.

EV charging station at ACEA Beach Resort in Subic

With the expected rise in the number of EVs, we can also expect charging infrastructures to increase to accommodate the shift. Pilipinas Shell has already started its move in 2022 and we expect the oil company to fast-track its plan this year. More and more malls will most likely offer EV-exclusive parking slots with charging stations, following similar moves from Ayala Malls and SM. There is already a newly installed charging station at the ACEA Beach Resort in Subic. Other independent providers of EV charging solutions will also likely become more available this year.

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