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PIMS 2022: In Toyota, a car show saves the best for last

It doesn’t have the best booth, but there’s no questioning who the market leader is

Simple, elegant, happy. That's the Toyota booth. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Let’s not bullshit each other: Toyota is far and away the leader in the Philippine automotive market. As in more than four out of 10 brand-new cars sold in the country are stamped with the Japanese manufacturer’s badge.

So, a car company that owns almost half of the market should be the automatic star at the 2022 Philippine International Motor Show, right?

But of course.

Yet Toyota doesn’t have the best booth of the show (that honor belongs to Mazda), nor does it have the most crowd-drawing car (that distinction goes to the Kia EV6).

Actually, showgoers will go to the Toyota booth even without sports cars. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

But because Toyota is numero uno, everything it touches turns to gold. Well, that’s easy to pull off if you have a sexy trio of performance cars: the GR Supra, the GR Yaris and the GR86.

The failure of the Prius in our market did not stop Toyota from bringing these hybrid cars to our shores. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

It also has a fleet of environment-friendly vehicles in the Camry Hybrid, the Corolla Altis Hybrid, the Corolla Cross Hybrid, and the RAV4 Hybrid. As if to say that whatever you like—whether sports car or fuel-efficient vehicle—Toyota has it.

You need to move around but you don't want to buy a car? No problem. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Then, there’s the presence of Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines. You’re done purchasing, owning and maintaining cars? Toyota has your back, too.

See, this is why competitors are so stressed just trying to keep up with the market leader’s pace. Here they are attempting to figure out a move by Toyota, and already Toyota is prepared to roll out a new gimmick.

Why, Toyota, do you have to remind the author about the love of his life? PHOTO BY VERNON B. SARNE

And to rub in its dominance, Toyota closes the opening day with an Ely Buendia concert—a concert that actually pulls in the crowd in the building. Yes, even the employees of rival car brands.

Another brilliant move. While Toyota team members watch with glee as their adversaries flock to their booth, smartphones are recording every moment of their monopoly.

Yes, Toyota doesn’t have the best booth or the most attractive car. So what? At the end of the day, it’s still the brand that people will gravitate to. Because Toyota knows how to make people feel good.

You know, like reminding an aging motoring journalist about his Paraluman.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.