From 2010 up until 2017, the Philippine automotive market enjoyed a massive sales boom, allowing many Filipinos to finally afford their own cars. We can thank the country’s growing economy for that, reaching a per capita income of over $3,000. There were also cheaper financing rates, low down-payment plans and, of course, more attainable entry-level vehicles such as the Toyota Wigo, the Mitsubishi Mirage, the Hyundai Eon and the Honda Brio, among others. This brought about many challenges, chief of which was the lack of proper driver education on basic road rules and regulations (not to mention basic road courtesy).
And now, we see many ignorant new car owners asking about basic information, which can easily be found in owner’s manuals. On the road, you can see them: driving barely above the speed limit, straddling two lanes, swerving left and right, failing to follow basic rules (stopping before the yellow box at an intersection, or freeing up the pedestrian crosswalk), ignoring the use of turn signals and many more.
Then there are those who personalize their cars with questionable modifications that include ill-fitting wheels, noisy fart-cannon exhausts with no power gains, bodykit that only the fabricator could love, misplaced and misaligned lights, obscenely dark tint, and tacky stickers. Indeed, these things are truly annoying—an assault on our basic sense of good taste. But do these car owners deserve all the hate and derision many veteran car owners (or so-called enthusiasts) heap upon them?
On various social media pages, self-professed car lovers lambaste, insult, ridicule and display ill will toward new car owners—as if they were never new car owners themselves at some point in their lives. The veteran enthusiasts mock the newbies concerning the latter’s financed vehicles—as opposed to their ability to pay cash for their now-aging cars—acting as though bank financing itself were the tool of the devil. They also make fun of the latter’s “poor taste” in customization or modification, which, in the veterans’ eyes, looks hideous. Really?
Truth to tell, without these new car owners, the local automotive industry would be in a very sorry state
Truth to tell, without these new car owners, the local automotive industry would be in a very sorry state. We’d have fewer nice cars to choose from, fewer dealerships to bring our cars to, and more expensive parts even from third-party suppliers in areas like Banawe and Evangelista. Because at the end of the day, car parts supply is also about economies of scale. The aftermarket trade, which many experts cite, grows together with the industry. If the vehicle market didn’t grow, we’d have fewer choices for aftermarket brands, and the ones available would be costlier. The aftermarket industry would dry out quickly, too, with far lower sales—unless we all change our wheels, tires and suspension every year.
There is an old African proverb that says: “It takes an entire village to raise a child.” It means a child needs to interact with other people, both children and elders, to grow up properly, with strong morals and the right character. Taking this proverb to heart, it is the duty of all car owners, especially enthusiasts, to gently guide new car owners to become better, more responsible and more courteous vehicle owners and road users. If we allow the social divide to widen, and adopt a high-horse attitude toward the “ignorant” new car owners, everyone will lose in the end.
Let’s use the Christmas season to spread good vibes and goodwill among all car owners. The more new car owners interact with the established veterans in the community, the more Philippine car culture will thrive and benefit everyone. Hopefully, this spurs the auto industry to grow and prosper further. Stop the hate and foster harmony beginning this Yuletide season. Happy holidays!