In Formula One, being in the third spot means having to step on the podium with the rest of the race’s winners. It’s also just as important as the second placer since the gap between the second and the third is only three points.
The story’s a bit different in the Philippine auto industry. Frankly, being in third place in terms of sales is more important than being the first.
Why so? That’s because for the longest time, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) have been dominating the industry, occupying the first and second spots, respectively. Seeing those two at the top of the podium isn’t surprising anymore, which makes the battle for the third spot more exciting.
For Ford Group Philippines Inc. (FGPI), this could be a comeback story. As I’ve reported back in May, the Blue Oval retakes third place in April 2021—a spot it previously held over three years ago or since January 2018, to be exact. Ford’s success story back then can be attributed to the popularity of the Ranger pickup and the Everest SUV; this year, the China-sourced Territory crossover takes the Everest’s place as one of Ford’s bestsellers.
However, Suzuki Philippines Inc. (SPI) hasn’t let its guard down in sales ranking. The Japanese company took the third spot from the American brand back in June, attributing its success to the sales of its small commercial vehicle, the Suzuki Carry. The Ertiga MPV and Dzire sedan complete SPI’s Top Three after the first six months of 2021.
The story is the same after the seventh month of the year. After tallying sales numbers coming from July 2021, SPI has widened its gap from FGPI, albeit by a hair, from 132 to 194 units sold.
Interestingly, FGPI has practically laid down its cards for the rest of the year, announcing the arrival of the diesel-fed version of the new-generation F-150 full-size truck and the all-new Explorer. Both vehicles, however, aren’t volume-sellers, so we aren’t expecting a huge reinforcement in terms of FGPI’s overall sales. More likely, FGPI will bank on the popularity of the Ranger and Territory. We’ve been seeing attractive promos for the EcoSport recently, which could also aid Ford’s numbers at the million-peso mark. As for SPI, there isn’t any new model arriving as far as we know. SPI’s latest releases were the new four-wheel drive version of the Vitara—the AllGrip—and the face lifted version of the Ciaz subcompact sedan.
But what about Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI)? Despite staying at the fifth spot for the entirety of 2021, NPI isn’t far behind FGPI and SPI in terms of sales numbers. The Japanese automaker is only currently 1,033 units away from FGPI, enjoying brisk sales from the heavily refreshed Navara pickup.
Unlike Ford and Suzuki, NPI still has a major ace up its sleeve—the Nissan Terra midsize SUV. The company has already announced the arrival of the facelifted model soon, which we expect to elevate NPI’s sales numbers towards the end of 2021. Think of it as NPI’s DRS, only in the form of an SUV that sits atop a ladder-frame chassis.
Will the Terra be NPI’s slipstream move to end 2021 with a podium finish? Or can FGPI and SPI successfully defend their bid for third with their current bestsellers? Only time will tell but just like you, we’ll be at the grandstand to witness the tight competition by the checked flag.