Summer auto spectacle:
MIAS 2019 a testament to industry health

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Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

THE annual summer spectacle that is the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) once again happened at its usual haunt, the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City. MIAS is known as the country’s longest-running and largest car show.

Staged from April 4 to 7, the 15th edition of the exposition organized by Worldbex Services International (WSI), this year for the benefit of ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc., was themed “Experience Fun and Function.”

In a speech at the opening ceremonies, WSI Founding Chairman Joseph Ang said: “When we think about why people would want to go to MIAS, two things come to our mind: fun and function. At the end of day, what we hope, want, and expect from our show is to immerse in experiences that are fun as well as to be exposed to the function of the latest innovations in automotive market.”

The much-awaited motor show is widely considered a popular occasion for motoring fans to catch up on the latest from a variety of auto marques and after-market suppliers. Participating brands have been known to take advantage of MIAS to launch new cars and offer deals for people on the lookout for a new vehicle or accessories. Immersive and interactive activities abound for visitors of all ages.

“The new car releases this year at MIAS are an interesting mix of practical and fun cars — just right for the theme,” said MIAS co-organizer Jason Ang exclusively to BusinessWorld. “There were sedans and small SUVs like the MG 6 and the Subaru XV GT, premium family SUVs like the Hyundai Palisade, and dream cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Kia Stinger.”

Aside from the auto exhibits at the main hall, car club displays were set up at the World Trade Center driveway, a monster truck display at the North Wing of the venue, and even a miniature die-cast car collection. Returning once more was MIAS regular Russ Swift, Guinness World Record holder for parallel parking in the tightest space, executing J-turns in the tightest space, and fastest time doing 10 donuts. Also presented (in partnership with Petron) was the usual Class Car Competition, which featured over 100 entries.

Noting the healthy state of our automotive industry, Automobile Association Philippines President Augusto Lagman recounted in his own speech, “About three years ago in an international motoring conference, one of the speakers said that by 2025, less cars will be purchased (because) ride-sharing had become popular. Well, if it does happen, I don’t think it will come to the Philippines that quickly.”

“Car makers are opting for fuel efficiency, as gasoline and diesel prices continue to rise. When variants are launched, they usually come with smaller engines and drivetrain configurations that are geared for fuel efficiency. Small and snazzy cars like the Suzuki Jimny and Hyundai Kona will see substantial demand,” predicted Ang.

Representing Department of Transportation (DoTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade was Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope Libiran, who shared, “‘Make the Filipino life comfortable.’ That was the marching order of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to our Department of Transportation Secretary… when he was appointed to the DoTr.”

Libiran noted that the department has been working on enhancing mobility and improving connectivity, and that moving with ease and efficiency is tied into the government’s so-called “Build, Build, Build” campaign to establish infrastructure. “In the last three years, we have been inaugurating new airports and rehabilitating existing ones to facilitate ease of movement for the Filipinos,” she said. We’re also building land ports, kilometers and kilometers of railways, and conducting sea port projects throughout the country. Specifically for the road sector, our infrastructure projects go hand in hand with transportation initiatives that do not merely aim to change the kind of vehicles we see on the road, but moreso the culture on the road.”

Starting in 2005, MIAS then had a modest footprint of 6,000 square meters of indoor space and an additional outdoor area of 3,000 square meters. According to co-organizers Jason Ang and Alvin Uy, the yearly event was “envisioned to be a world-class spectacle competitive with the region’s best… We’re glad that the manufacturers and the public have embraced the concept.”

Last year’s MIAS breached an attendance figure of 138,000. Visitors got to enjoy the sights and sounds of a myriad of exhibitors spread out over 34,000 square meters.