You can always tell when a new car model is arriving

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Don’t Drink And Write

To be informed about the latest car introductions, consumers essentially rely on advertisements. The problem is that, for many of these new vehicles, the local distributors withhold the information up to the very last minute — usually after the outgoing model has sold out its inventory.

So what happens is that you buy a car only to find out a week later that a competing model from a rival brand — certainly fresher and definitely more desirable — is about to be launched in the market. Of course it’s too late to regret your purchase. No car dealer would take back a vehicle even with the lowest of mileage. You’re now stuck, for the next four years, with a vehicle you know will soon be the second-coolest (at best) model in its class.

How to avoid this?

Well, you can look for other signs that a new model is joining the vehicle segment you’re looking into. Ideally, the best source would be the motoring press. But in most cases, we also get our facts and verify them with the car companies. But like I said, these companies will never publicize the imminent arrival of a new model unless they’ve unloaded the last unit of the model’s predecessor in their stock. And in those rare instances that we stumble upon the tightly guarded news from a third party, fat chance the distributor would confirm it. More often than not — even when they do confirm the rumors — they’d call an embargo (a request for the non-publication of privileged information until further notice). Most times, journalists have no choice but to comply; if we don’t, we could be taken off the media list or be cut from the official supply of stories.

In my case, when a story tip lands on my lap and the source is credible, I ask around but not with company executives who are likely to cajole me into postponing the publication of the article. I also read certain product movements in the market.

One sign I’ve proven to be extremely dependable in anticipating the entry of a new model is this: When the brand or its main competition starts heavily promoting its product that is being replaced by or is doing battle with the coming vehicle. The promotion could come in the form of big discounts or a new variant (even if said variant features very minor changes). The goal is to sell out the existing units of the current model (in the case of the brand that is launching the new model), or preempt the other brand’s launch and steal as many potential buyers as possible (in the case of the competitors).

I’ll give you an example. In October, Toyota Motor Philippines announced a new variant of the Avanza MPV called Veloz. A month later, the company sent another press release, this time for a new variant of the bigger Innova MPV called Touring Sport. Both variants boast mostly cosmetic upgrades, but I guarantee you these tweaks are compelling enough for MPV shoppers — enough to completely distract them from the increasingly loud buzz that Mitsubishi Motors Philippines is releasing an all-new multipurpose vehicle (the Xpander) in the first quarter of next year.

Trust me, by the time Mitsubishi’s marketing campaign for the Xpander’s introduction is in full swing, many of its target buyers will have already bought either an Avanza or an Innova.

Conversely, if an automaker is aggressively selling a long-in-the-tooth model with attractive discounts for several months in succession, you can almost be sure that the appearance of the model’s successor is just around the corner.

If my theory is correct, we’re about to see fantastic promos and colorful new variants in the midsize SUV segment in the coming months. That’s because, according to a source, Nissan Philippines is bringing in its Navara-based SUV in 2018. The segment in question is a hotly contested one, with such strong contenders as the Chevrolet Trailblazer, the Ford Everest, the Isuzu Mu-X, the Mitsubishi Montero Sport and the Toyota Fortuner.

If you start seeing marketing campaigns for these vehicles at the start of next year, you already know why. And, if you’re in the market for a new midsize SUV, you can then evaluate your choices more knowledgeably.

Now, if you’re the type of car buyer who never agonizes over a car choice — if you can easily make up your mind and if you never look back — get that vehicle you’ve been eyeing and use it in good health. Life’s too short to worry about upcoming new models anyway.