Nissan Motor Co. to return to PH this year by merging NMPI and UMC

By Vernon B. Sarne

Nissan Motor Company

With Nissan's lowly status in our market these days, it's difficult to remember that this Japanese automaker was actually the No. 3 car brand in the Philippines back in the early '90s. In 1995, the last year it held the third spot behind Toyota and Mitsubishi, Nissansold a total of 18,729 units. It actually sold more the following year (19,104) but also lost its podium ranking to Honda.

After the Asian financial crisis of 1997--a year when Nissan sales in our market dipped to 16,456 units--Nissan never truly regained its previous form, eventually pulling out of the Philippine market in 2000 and turning over the reins of Nissan Motor Philippines to Taiwan's Yulon Motor.

Of course, we know what happened next.

A steady decline ensued--unacceptable for the world's sixth largest car company (in terms of sales) that actually has two independent distributors in the Philippines (NMPI for passenger cars and Universal Motors Corporation for commercial vehicles). In 2007, Hyundai dislodged Nissan from the fifth slot in our market, officially confirming that the latter was in serious trouble.

Last year--a record year for our automotive industry as far as sales numbers are concerned--the combined sales tally of NMPI and UMC was a measly 6,404 units, with NMPI chalking up just 1,445. Even Kia comfortably outsold the two distributors by over a thousand cars. If this isn't a clear indication that Nissan in the Philippines is in a moribund state, we don't know what is.

Ah, but here's some really good news for fans of the brand: We just got word that Nissan Motor Company is returning to the Philippines and retaking control of Nissan operations in the country. According to two sources within the Nissan network, Nissan this time will be a unified undertaking involving majority shareholder Nissan Motor Company of Japan and partners Yulon and UMC.

One of our sources said that a team from Nissan Motor Asia Pacific (Nissan's regional office based in Bangkok) is arriving in August for the transition, and that the new company could be in place as early as October. The new Nissan team, apparently, will hold office in Makati, with the existing NMPI headquarters in Santa Rosa, Laguna, to carry on as the carmaker's assembly plant.

According to our sources, UMC employees were formally informed of the development early this week by no less than company president and CEO Dr. Wayne Lee. It looks like some of the workers of both UMC and NMPI will be absorbed by the new Nissan-owned merger, while others will be offered severance packages.

UMC is also reportedly in negotiations with Renault and Tata in hopes of distributing both (or at least one of the) brands in the country.

"This will happen very quickly," said one of our sources.

"It will have a major impact on the revival that we have been waiting for," added the other.

Nissan started business in our market in 1982 as Pilipinas Nissan Inc., a joint venture between Nissan Motor Company and Marubeni Corporation. The following year, it launched the first locally assembled Nissan car, the Stanza.In 1991, the corporate name of Nissan's local distributor was officially changed to Nissan Motor Philippines, which soldiers on to this day under the ownership of Yulon Motor.

The models sold by Nissan here through the years are the Stanza, the Pulsar, the Sentra, the Maxima, the California, the Sunny, the Cefiro, the Bluebird, the Vanette, the Patrol, the Altima, the Cedric, the Eagle, the AD Resort, the Terrano, the Urvan, the Frontier, the 200SX, the Verita, the Serena, the X-Trail, the 350Z, the Murano, the Teana, the Grand Livina, the Navara, and the Almera.

The last decade, however, has seen a dearth of attractive model choices from Nissan, bewildering customers who can't seem to comprehend NMPI's (and UMC's) inability to bring in cars that people would actually want to buy and drive.

Cars like the GT-R, for instance.Thankfully, there is now reason to hope they will soon arrive at local Nissan showrooms. Count on it.


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  • reneilrono Jul 17 2013 @ 12:51am
    It has been decade and now the Godzilla is back. Watch out for Nissan!!!!
  • AJ Jul 17 2013 @ 12:56am
    Yey! Less Yulon please. Taiwan doesn't deserve our patronage. Bring back the Japanese models (Cars)!
    • mico23 Jul 18 2013 @ 01:18am
      I thought NMPI was simply Yulon's pastime/hobby. Something they would only spend spare time on to manage.
  • GotToRead Jul 17 2013 @ 12:57am
    GT-R, make it your halo car here together with the 370z, it will boost your image drastically! Bring Renault! Megane! Megane! Megane or better yet Megane RS! Megane RS! Megane RS!
    • GotToRead Jul 17 2013 @ 12:57am
      Or why not both the Megane and Megane RS and then the Clio!
  • REDEN Jul 17 2013 @ 12:59am
    Like many pinoys, I too also experienced the lack of "Better" models after the good 'ol 90s. Thanks to Taiwan's Yulon. Feel jealous every time I see pics of their cars from other countries. It's either our latest model from them is like 3 years late or there are other yummy cars abroad which we don't have available.

    But now after doing my living here in Japan (being a hosto and all. :D), I happily experienced the real Nissan brand with all its glory. From my neighbor's wangan S.GT-R, to a girl office mate Silvia drifter, my boss's 240Z, friend's cube, to our nice looking El Grand, etc. etc.!

    Even if I'm not there until next year (I hope). I am happy that Nissan finally took time to take a look at our rather small market. Hey! How can it be that the 6th biggest automaker globally, and the num. 2 of the Big 3 Japanese car maker (yes num. 2 just behind Toyota), not make same impact back in Manila? It's quite funny coz Mitsubishi which is currently having a hard time globally is actually doing better than Nissan in Pinas. :D So hopefully when I get back, Nissan Ph. has indeed made a comeback... in a huge way. ;)
    • GotToRead Jul 17 2013 @ 01:05am
      The only problem I see here is mismanagement. There are plenty of good cars Nissan sells globally that are not present here. 2-3 years from now I think Mazda and Nissan will eat huge chunks of the market pie here.
      • GodziRRa! Jul 17 2013 @ 10:42pm
        One example is the Altima. I saw one L33 llast eyar, and damn! It's one very nice looking car! Actually, in the U.S its been one of the best if not the best in its class for quite some time now.
  • Allain Jul 17 2013 @ 01:04am
    Sir Vernon my Uncle use to have a Nissan Maxima if i am not mistaken. My high school classmate drives a Nissan Cedric where all of my tropa learned how to drive. My favorite The Nissan Bluebird of my In-laws. Miss that car!
  • GTi Jul 17 2013 @ 01:13am
    Well its about time! Better late than never then. But then Nissan is actually very successful in Taiwan under Yulon, and they had quite a lot of excellent cars not available here. I wonder what happened...
  • Juan Camaro Jul 17 2013 @ 01:48am
    I'm happy for Nissan. Bring on the Infiniti!
  • Carfanatic Jul 17 2013 @ 08:11am
    Watch out Honda and Hyundai.
    • codenamejanrei Jul 17 2013 @ 10:53am
      Only Hyundai must watch out with Nissan, haha!
      • REDEN Jul 17 2013 @ 10:22pm
        lol. Yep, honda doesn't need to watch out... because actually they're only num. 3 in the "Japanese Big 3", behind Toyota and Nissan. :) "Konbanwa"!
  • codemonkey23 Jul 17 2013 @ 09:06am
    sana dumating na yung new sentra sylphy :D
  • codenamejanrei Jul 17 2013 @ 10:52am
    Sino nagsabing imposibleng mangyare to? Yey!!
  • aldy888cbu Jul 17 2013 @ 12:39pm
    More importantly is for them to improve after sales service. Through those years of neglect, it has embolden some dealers to do mercenary kind of services. I used to owned a Maxima during the 1990's. It went in for some maintenance and they got caught putting a silver wrap from a gum in the starter or was it alternator, I couldn't remember, presumably to make a better electrical connection. We went directly to the owner of the dealer whom we knew to complain, but to our surprise he just told the mechanic to be more careful next time and went on to do nothing. The next day I immediately put my Maxima and Sentra for sale and vowed never to buy a Nissan again. Since then i know it's service hasn't improve cause I could hear other friends complaining about Nissan's poor and unethical service. Nissan should make it a priority to straighten up its dealers otherwise it will remain the worst performer of the auto industry.
    • johnny_bravo Jul 17 2013 @ 01:11pm
      I had a problem with nissan also, Had my x trails throttle body cleaned by autoplus. Unfortunately, when you disconnect the sensors from the body and replace it back you have to reset the computer of the idle by pluggin in a small device from nissan or manually by getting the instructions online. When I brought my car to nissan and asked for a resetting of the idle ignition they said I have to leave it overnight, etc.... Even though I already said they just need to reset the idle ignition. ( This was 1 1/2 years ago) When I went the next day the service adviser said I need to replace my throttle body because its damaged and not repairable. He did not know that I have printed instructions on how to manually reset the idle of the engine, so after a lot of arguing with the service supervisor I showed him the print out and did the idle reset manually. After 10 mins I finally made it right and the service advisor has no words to say! not even sorry! I said I can sue him and Nissan for this. Really dissapointed with Nissan! I will never ever by a Nissan or have my xtrail serviced at Nissan again! Bunch of crooks!!!!!
      • johnny_bravo Jul 17 2013 @ 01:20pm
        Never ever buy a Nissan, sorry for the wrong spelling!
    • GodziRRa! Jul 17 2013 @ 10:14pm
      That happens on all local CASA not just Nissan. Remember back in the day, pre-hid years, when the diamond white philips were were considered cool. Well it was stolen and replaced during our rav4 maintenance service in Toyota. ;)
      • aldy888cbu Jul 18 2013 @ 08:32am
        Yes, it can happen everywhere and to everyone. But it's one thing to be victimized by a crew, it's another thing if the owner or management tolerate or worse condone the unethical act.
        • GodziRRa! Jul 18 2013 @ 02:14pm
          True I understand very well dude. Because we too were being screwed not by one crew but the whole dealer as well. Wouldn't want to retro rant this but here goes.

          Mid to late 90s. I remember clearly how they keep on insisting that our little 3 door SUV just had an ordinary bulb. That day me and my mum gave up the argument since it's obviously going no where. But before we leave, my garbriela mum told them we'll just let this issue get to toyota Ph. president at that time. And lo and behold after that day around 8:30 am, they ring mum telling they found the freaking philips bulbs, said it was just a misunderstanding and is under investigation. They said they will fire the service guy if found guilty, even proposed to deliver the set to our doorstep. I was like WTF? First of all why would these guys touch and even remove the bulb of my head lights on the first place when they're just doing periodic maintenance! xD I don't really know if they fire the guy who did my car. But I never knew because we never came back there.

          I got my cheesy bulb set and it was a lesson indeed. So question is would I buy another toyota after this bad experience? Answer is Yes. Even if they had a humongous stuck up accelerator issue that had casualties? Yep. Their global Pres. admitted it asks for forgiveness, chance, & fixed their quality issue, quality which they are known for. Everybody deserves a chance anyways. Would I go back to that particular dealer again? Maybe. Since by now after like 15 or 16 years chances are there is a new management there. :) Heck! Fact is, some cheaper talyers even have better overall service than most expensive casas here! :D
          • johnny_bravo Jul 26 2013 @ 12:50pm
            The problem that irritates me the most is that the service adviser lied in front of my face and told me that the throttle body is damaged and we have to change it. The service adviser was milking me like a cow. We have different car brands too but Nissan really takes the cake for what they did.
    • REDEN Jul 18 2013 @ 05:35pm
      Worst performer? Is it in Manila? I assume your definitely talking in pinas right. Coz globally it's the 2nd biggest selling Japanese Car brand. Just like what I've mentioned regarding the "Big Three Japanese Automakers". Well I guess I'm just a lucky hosto here in Japan right now with all them Nissans at full effect. :)
  • carlo999 Jul 17 2013 @ 06:23pm
    finally, sana maging available na ang r35 locally :D
  • vgpena Jul 17 2013 @ 07:29pm
    Other than the GTR, I hope the Pathfinder also makes it to our shores.
  • omaromar Jul 17 2013 @ 08:03pm
    After 20 years!!! Literally!!! We had a nissan sentra series 1, nissan vanette, nissan sentra series 3, nissan terrano, Grew up with the brand only to be disappointed for the past 2 decades. Hope to see a few JDM/USDM lineup in the coming months. The sentra, gtr, 270z and the xterra's would be a nice additions locally. GTR's would go against the american muscle cars, 270z's would go against the 86's and the genesis' and the sentra comes back to take on the corollas and elantras:) Just hope it doesn't take another 20 years to do it.
    • omaromar Jul 17 2013 @ 08:05pm
      370 z pala hehe. Napagcombine ang 240z at 370z my mistake
  • aventador Jul 17 2013 @ 09:53pm
    • codenamejanrei Jul 18 2013 @ 07:25am
      And that awkward moment when your username is a rival of the Godzilla, haha
  • windel Jul 17 2013 @ 09:57pm
    Bring it on Nissan! bring the GT-R, Juke, 370z and the Leaf... bring cars first before renault. never mind tata.
  • Haggar Jul 17 2013 @ 10:20pm
    Bring the Juke and Rogue first. X-Trail is beyond ancient and can't compete against the current CRV, Rav or Tucson. It's a good opportunity for Nissan as well since Ford has dropped the ball in bringing in their new Escape.
  • romeldinho Jul 18 2013 @ 08:14am
    micra vs mirage
    note/versa vs jazz/fiesta
    pathfinder vs ms, fort

    pathfinder shares something with mitsu right?
  • mo_lave Jul 18 2013 @ 09:05am
    If Nissan wants to have the comeback of comebacks it really needs here, they have to treat the Philippines like it is US/Japan, going the extra mile to offer good models with no compromise on features.

    A GT-R offering is a must, as it shows the Filipinos that they are dead serious in capturing the market even in a backwater country like ours.

    In addition to this, they should add staples like the Sentra and big-market-share segment cars like the Pathfinder as their bread-and-butter here.

    And lastly, I hope they give the Filipinos the ability to indent-order any model in Nissan's global lineup. This is especially useful in gauging market reception to every model and giving Nissan a reason to officially introduce it if indent-order demand proved to be sufficient.
  • Transformers Jul 18 2013 @ 08:10pm
    Nissan should bring in the Juke and Pulsar. They should really phase out the ancient X-Trail.
  • tsuktsak Jul 19 2013 @ 11:50am
    I believe in Nissan's Good Quality Products and Services. Go Nissan! Bring the GT-R and 370Z here in Philippines! :)
  • odnalor60 Jul 19 2013 @ 02:34pm
    The 2013 Sentra US version is nice,parang Altima
  • alyasmarvin Jul 19 2013 @ 04:30pm
    ipon ipon din pag may time. GTR all the way. Kahit kenmeri ok na! hhahaha
  • jfc168 Jul 20 2013 @ 02:56am
    It's about time. I want to see more of those driver's cars that Nissan sells in the US namely the Maxima and Altima.

    Nissan should just kill the Almera name. What is wrong with the US name Versa? The Versa Note (hatch) is a real contender in the subcompact class.

    The GT-R is a great car but I'm not sure that it would sell a lot. It already costs over P5M from gray market dealers.
  • foolishofficer Jul 20 2013 @ 09:09am
    It's long overdue that Nissan should be bringing in a model that could sell. Case of Almera - how many of these mass market cars have you seen on the road? It is also a challenge where to get supply for the left-hand drive cars. Case of Sentra 200 - this is too expensive there's no bang for the buck. Nissan also has overstaying brand new cars. Case of the old Sentra (finally retired), Serena and Urvan Escapade - just how many more should you sell for your ROI for local manufacturing?

    My wish is they will bring in Sylphy, Note, new Serena, Terrano, Datsun Go (entry market) sooner than later. At least not 2 years after other markets starts selling. Otherwise, they will never be top 3 Japanese brand.
  • MyFordSync Jul 21 2013 @ 03:11pm
    This is long overdue. I recall during my grade school days how the green Sentra Series 3 dominates both TV and print ads, with a Richard Gomez (tama nga ba) as the endorser. Nissan was king in the diesel pick up segment especially during the release of the Frontier. Nissan's were famous for the best airconditioning systems.

    The "new" Navara they displayed at SM Clark few weeks back is a complete disaster. Seeing that pick up being promoted is enough to see where Nissan in the Philippines now.

    I have not felt any presence of the brand the past years indeed. Since Nissan Motor Company will take over, please bring in the Tiida, one of the best selling models I am sure the Filipinos would love when they get to try it. Get on the Qashqai on the compact SUV segment, new Sentra, and the Altima to bash the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord head on.
  • JoHunter Jul 21 2013 @ 10:02pm
    Back in the US I drove a Maxima, and I loved it. Head and shoulders above the Camry and the Accord (which is kinda unfair as a comparison when you consider the Maxima in the US is marketed to compete against same-level models from Lexus, BMW and Mercedes Benz). Nissan used to be my favorite carmaker before I came back here.

    So yeah, this is very good news. And with the possibility of the GT-R finally becoming available officially, I think Porsche may have something to think about.
  • TheChigga Jul 23 2013 @ 01:31pm
    They should definitely bring in the sports cars like the GT-R, and 370z, and then they will have the praise of the market and soon they can reach the top 3 again. Nissan should also bring the Infiniti brand here to compete with Lexus and other luxury carmakers
  • Radenbach Jul 25 2013 @ 08:49pm
    i almost cried while reading the article (with Schiller's "Ode to Joy" as background music). It's about time that NMPI received its most deserved revival,and of course consolidating with its long lost brothers at UMC. and i hope that they will send my beloved Sentra back, man, I missed her so much..
  • kylejoszef Aug 31 2013 @ 08:48am
    My Wish list for Nissan to bring in the Philippines

    1. Nissan GTR!
    2. Nissan 370Z
    3. Nissan Elgrand
    4. Nissan Serena (All new model)
    5. Nissan March/Micra
    6. Nissan Sentra/Slyphy
    7. Nissan Juke
    8. Nissan Evalia/Vanette
    9. Nissan Pathfinder
    10. Nissan Pulsar
    11. Nissan Leaf
    12. Nissan Cube
  • REDEN 11 months ago
    Here in Japan we already have our hands on the new Xtrail last X'mas... And oh boy! All I can say is you guys should really have that specific car model back home! 8)
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