Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Philippine Car companies are stupid

Some recent big time mistakes done by Philippine car companies.

WARNING: this is a rant. I do not pretend to be a car expert. This is all my opinion and is based on some personal observations and consultations with a few friends. It also contains sweeping generalizations, mild swearing and mild exaggerations for shock and comedy purposes. So if you have information that can explain some of the stupid decisions car companies have made, or if I made some mistakes, then feel free to comment.

NOTE: by "philippine car companies"  I dont mean companies that were founded by and owned by filipinos, I mean major car companies that sell cars in the philippines.

Lets start with the new Austin mini and the new  VW beetle. These 2 are remakes of cult classics so fans of the original who are now grown up might want to buy them. Unfortunately, that looks like the full extent of the market. These 2 did not sell well. Not sure if they were grey market cars or if an official distributor exists. Anyway these 2 had big disadvantages. Parts and support are always a problem in the philippines unless the car is one of the Big japanese or german brands. Pero the main problem is price performance ratio. These are not large or fast cars and they cost a lot. For almost the same price it would be much better to get a more ordinary looking BMW or Mercedes Benz. Filipinos are practical and wont buy a car just on sentimental value or cuteness.

Next, small diesel cars or lack thereof. AFAIK in Europe Austin mini sized diesel cars exist. AFAIK the smallest brand new diesel car you can buy in the philippines would be a ford escape 2.0 liter. If someone could offer a diesel subcompact sedan (something like a Vios or City) with a ~1.5L diesel with a sub 1 million peso price tag, it would sell like hotcakes. Even better would be a really small diesel car like the Suzuki celerio. Aside from being practical, filipinos are poor. Afaik one reason the honda CRV won over the Rav 4 was its lower price.  1 liter of unleaded gas costs 39.9 something pesos and Diesel costs around 10 pesos less than that. Add to that the generally higher mileage of diesel and you know why diesel cars are cheap to operate. On a related note, why the F*** dont the expedition and other large cars come in diesel format?

Next - Cars need to go on a Diet. The Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic started out as small cheap sedans available in 1.3 liter versions. They then started to grow bigger and bigger, both in size and engine displacement. Finally they got overpriced out of their market segment and the Toyota Vios and the Honda City had to be invented. As similar thing also happened to the Suzuki vitara - becoming the Grand vitara. The small SUV segment was taken over by the Jimny but it is too small to take over the vitara's place. WTF are those people thinking. Only a few filipinos need more horsepower. Remember that the Philippines is a poor country. Special mention to the Ford Expeditions that are now gathering dust in their owner's garages or are being sold dirt cheap. A SUV or sedan with a > 2 liter gas engine is a stupid buy these days. Gas is expensive. You should at least offer a diesel version.

Next - the Prius. WTF was Toyota thinking? Its expensive, around the same price as a mid end luxury car and almost 5x the price of a vios. Look, Toyota, if I was rich enough to afford a Prius I would be rich enough to NOT CARE about the gas bill. And I would rather buy a BMW or Mercedes since the price is the same. Filipinos dont give much thought to the environment because we're poor. We'll gladly stomp all over the greenies if it meant saving a buck. I predict that most people in the Philippines who buy the prius (if any) are more interested in "appearing" green.

I suggest a cheaper version, a PRIUS LITE if you will, with these specs:

* Smaller body, 2 seater if needed.
* Smaller engine. The Prius has a 1.8 liter engine but accelerates like a V6. Who the heck in the Philippines would want to do that? It wastes gas! Just give me a 1 liter engine that accelerates like a 1.3 liter engine. That would be good enough for me.
* Cut down on the expensive electronics. Just have the dashboard flash a big LOW BATT or FULL BATT sign and have the driver manually switch the gas engine on or off.
* Why be gas at all? Go diesel - electric hybrid
* Modular battery pack. Add more or less cells depending on your budget, sacrificing cargo space. Also have the option of going lead-acid if your budget is really small.
* From the start its a plug in hybrid.
* Typical battery only range would be say 20-50 km, with the aircon on. This is the Philippines. Its hot here. An aircon is a necessity. Anybody that can afford a decent car also has a job or social life that would be affected if they showed up to work sweaty and smelly.
* Manual transmission to lower the price.
* Not more than 1 million pesos in price


dragonrower said...

first off, diesel cars can be expensive but take note that diesel engine vehicles are much more expensive to maintain. their parts are more expensive because they are treated differently when they made them. we have the hyundai getz 1.4L diesel in the market. they stopped selling the gas variant as the getz is about to be obsolete. bad news for people who recently bought getz as their future are not set when it comes to support.

vios & city on a diesel? hmmm. the displacement might go to waste. a sedan of that size will require at least 1.5L of diesel action for performance ratio

plus, the filipinos are not educated enough on how to treat a diesel engined vehicle. you have to drive them differently from a gas variant. kaya daming tangang tsuper nagsasabi na, bakit mausok pa rin ang jeep ko inoverhaul ko na ito? well stupid, because it is how you treat the gas pedal to the metal, feeling kasi ng pinoy parang F1 pa rin ang mabigat nilang kaha hehe

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