There was a time Honda cars sold like hotcakes in the Philippines. We hope you\'re old enough to remember.
In 1996, Honda formally dislodged Nissan from the No. 3 slot in our market, selling a total of 20,233 units, a brand record that still stands today. For five straight years, Honda held on to that lofty spot--behind only Toyota and Mitsubishi, of course--briefly relinquishing it to Isuzu in 2001 before reclaiming it the following year.
For another four consecutive years, Honda was firmly entrenched as our market\'s numero tres, even going up to No. 2 in 2006 and 2007. Honda then settled again in its familiar third position in 2008 and 2009.
And then--horror of horrors--Honda lost the No. 3 spot to Korean automaker Hyundai in 2010. Hyundai moved a total of 18,696 units, while Honda managed just 16,604. Hyundai Asia Resources hasn\'t let go of that ranking up to the present, and Honda Cars Philippines is hoping to change the scenario at the end of the year by taking back what it once owned.
At last Sunday\'s ground-breaking ceremony for Honda Cars Marcos Highway, Toshio Kuwahara, senior assistant vice president for marketing and sales at HCPI, told TopGear.com.ph that he expects his company to be No. 3 again in the Philippines by the end of 2013.
Is it a realistic goal? Let\'s check the numbers.
So far this year--from January to May--Hyundai has already sold a total of 9,266 units, whereas Honda has chalked up 6,170. Still a lot of ground to cover if we\'re being honest, but already a huge improvement from last year, when Hyundai (21,996) sold almost double Honda\'s numbers (12,653) in a span of 12 months. And so, Kuwahara is hopeful.
In the last couple of years, Kuwahara pointed out, Hyundai launched one new car after another, including the Sonata, the Elantra, the Accent, the Tucson and the Santa Fe. \"But now, they\'re quiet,\" the executive said. \"Now, it\'s our turn.\"
Aside from the new Civic and CR-V, Honda has also brought in the hybrid CR-Z. The company is also launching an all-new sedan either late this year or early next year, but requested us not to reveal the car\'s identity just yet.
Kuwahara also mentioned Hyundai\'s current global supply problems--apparently brought about by labor issues among the carmaker\'s work force in South Korea--as one of the crucial factors that could turn the tide in Honda\'s favor.
So, which car brand will end up with the No. 3 slot in our market this year? Take our poll.
Photo by Vernon B. Sarne