Car brands and the electric vehicle revolution in the Philippines
BY ALFRED MENDOZA
The Manila Times
THE Philippines is experiencing a rapid growth in its automotive market, with a surge of car brands entering the scene over the past decade. This influx from both China and Europe has injected excitement and innovation into the industry, particularly with the introduction of fullsized electric vehicles (EVs). These EVs, hailed as cleaner and more environmentally friendly options, boast zero carbon dioxide emissions and significantly reduced sound pollution. While the debate over the environmental benefits of EVs rages on, it’s crucial to consider their immediate impact on our densely populated cities. The metropolis of Metro Manila, home to nearly 14.7 million residents within a 619.57 square kilometer area, has keenly felt the effects of pollution, especially during the pandemic lockdowns from 2020 to 2022. To reclaim better air quality in mega-cities like ours, a mass transition from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles to EVs is essential. This shift can only occur through widespread adoption in mass transportation, commercial fleets, and private ownership. Fortunately, the path is clearer now with the government’s Evida law, and the emphasis on health as a measure of wealth is more pronounced than ever. Clean air is a right we all deserve, and car brands must rise to the occasion by providing vehicles that enhance our quality of life. So, what distinguishes a successful car brand in the Philippines? The fundamentals of a car brand start with the product offering. It must feature well-equipped models that are competitive in their respective classes, offering buyers a sense of exceptional value for their money. The relevance of the product offering is equally critical. As I highlighted earlier, the current golden opportunity for new car brands lies in affordable and reliable EVs. While Japanese, Korean, and European manufacturers have introduced initial EV models, they have not yet achieved critical mass. Thus, offering an affordable and dependable EV can be a game changer for any brand. Once an exceptional product is in place, brand sustainability becomes paramount. Brands must demonstrate loyalty to their customers by consistently addressing their needs, particularly in terms of aftersales ownership experience. This means ensuring the availability of spare parts at all times, minimizing vehicle downtime through efficient maintenance, and maintaining constant communication with clients. If after-sales service falls short of excellence, brands should think twice before entering our market. A clear and consistent plan for sustained growth must be communicated effectively. The benchmark for dealership capability is a 4S dealership: Sales, Service, Spare parts, and Survey. Each dealership must offer all these components to provide a comprehensive customer experience. Conversely, the fastest way to break a brand in any market is to lose customer trust. Selling a subpar product or failing to service it adequately erodes trust and adversely affects resale value. Failing to address customer concerns, especially significant ones, can be equally damaging. Ownership experience ultimately defines a brand’s value, with customers serving as the ultimate arbiters. Why do I emphasize EVs as a prime example of a product that can propel brands to success? It’s because they represent the pinnacle of the 4S approach for brands entering or operating in the Philippine market. The first brand to offer a truly appealing EV will undoubtedly capture a significant share of the market. Today’s consumers prioritize health over mere features like resale value and air-conditioning. To make it, a car brand must offer advanced technology, safety, and an improved quality of life. It must be a reliable vehicle with abundant parts and exceptional customer service, ensuring worry-free ownership that benefits all stakeholders and enhances overall well-being. The writing is on the wall, change has to be embraced tightly to make it. Major brands have already committed to full EV lineups by 2050, and Europe aims to go all-electric by 2030. The opportune moment to thrive or dominate the Philippine car market is now. Offering an affordable EV while addressing infrastructure gaps and maximizing Evida law incentives is the key. However, always ensure that when customers visit your dealership, they receive clear, timely and authentic responses to their service-related inquiries. Consistent communication and an authentic commitment to meeting customer needs are the keys to success for car brands in the Philippines.