We were given an eye-opener recently during the launch of the all-new Subaru Forester.
During a brief interview with Glenn Tan, executive director of Tan Chong International Ltd. (the group behind Motor Image, official distributor of the Subaru brand in Southeast Asia), we asked him: "How important is the Philippine market? We know that it is, in fact, very small."
"The Philippines is not very small," he replied. "The smallest markets for us are Cambodia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Cambodia's new-car market is 10,000 units a year. Singapore's is about 25,000 this year, and Hong Kong's is also about 25,000 this year. If you compare it, the Philippines is a very big market."
Admittedly, this came as a big surprise to us. We suppose it's because we are so used to comparing our 180,000-unit annual total to the roughly 1.4 million units sold in Thailand.
Given the state of automobile manufacturing locally, and the proliferation of gray-market imports, let's hope that we won't be overtaken by Cambodia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Tan then moved on to talk about the all-new Forester: "The typical Subaru SUV buyer is the person who wants something different. They have been driving sedans and want to upgrade to something bigger and different. Subaru is different with its symmetrical all-wheel drive and boxer engines. And now, we have a new CVT, which is efficient."
When asked if the Forester will take sales away from the XV crossover, Tan replied: "They are very different. The Forester is for the outdoorsy types. The XV is very urban, and is for customers who prefer a city-type car with a modern design."
Photo by Raynand Olarte