Sunshine Television, the producer of Motoring Today and Auto Focus, recently conducted the 3rd STV Auto Industry Forum which sought to form an outlook and prognosis of the local automobile industry and market, and determine what new initiatives the government administration are undertaking and considering to support local car makers and distributors.

The forum was moderated by STV Chairman and CEO Mr. Ray Butch Gamboa and featured a high-powered panel of speakers consisting of: Atty. Albert Arcilla - Managing Director/COO, The Covenant Car Company (Chevrolet); Mr. Daniel Isla - President, Lexus Manila, Inc.; and Mr. Greg Yu - Chairman, Cats Motors, Inc. (Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep). The government was represented by Department of Trade & Industry (DOTC) undersecretary Cristino L. Panlilio, who is also the Managing Head of the Board of Investments (BOI).

The program brought to light the concerns of the local auto industry, and opened a dialogue with the government, with the latter detailing plans and programs that will help the industry grow in the long term.

Mr. Gamboa opened the forum with the current state of the auto industry, with the sales growth across the board leading to record sales in 2010. "The seeming gloom and doom of 2009 has now been dispelled by the zoom and boom in the car market," said Mr. Gamboa. "The majority of local auto manufacturers and distributors appear to subscribe to this positive outlook, which no doubt is shared by the government departments and agencies that work closely with the industry."

"Early 2010 may have been a volatile period for us, but it turned out to be a good year," said Atty. Arcilla. "We managed to win back the public's trust in the brand, expand our distribution to 20 dealerships, and grow our business here in the Philippines by 54%."

"Our Company's growth last year may have been modest, but we've hit our sales targets over the past 2 years, said Mr. Isla, president of Lexus Manila, a brand that is affected by the Japan earthquake and subsequent calamities "[Lexus Manila's] 2010 growth was 75% and as of April 2011, we are up 29% YTD over the same period the year before even with delivery issues arising from the recent calamities in Japan. However, we expect supply to stabilize by November."

For his part, CAT's Motors' Mr. Yu exclaimed that "2010 was the best year so far for us. Our Mercedez Benz business improved by 35%, and Chrysler was up 28%. We attribute these primarily to buoyant economic factors, high confidence in government, as well as an easy bank financing environment."

Queried by the forum moderator and speakers, the DTI's and BOI's Panlilio outlined a string of government initiatives that support or affect the industry, foremost of which is the Private Partnership Program (PPP) for the construction of more infrastructure like roads and highways. "The auto industry will directly benefit from the road building component and projects to be undertaken under the PPP," said Panlilio. "There are 10 road infrastructure projects, 4 of which are major, that will be rolled out in 2011."

Some of the government programs discussed during the Auto Focus forum proved an eye-opener and welcome news to many of the auto industry executives who attended the forum. STV's Gamboa concluded: "Credible and first-hand government straight-talk is what I believe many in the auto industry want and expect. Tonight, we got it!"

Launch of 2011-2012 AutoFocus People's Choice Awards

The 2011-12 Auto Focus People's Choice Awards, Sunshine Television's (STV) annual nationwide public poll to determine the country's most popular automobile brands and models, was launched at the conclusion of the 3rd STV Industry Forum.

The poll, which will run from July 1 - September 30, 2011 is now on its 7th year, and will now extend "Model of the Year" awards in 13 distinct categories including a new "Open" category. Voters who wish to participate can log-on to and register at the poll website at on July 1.

The public may also obtain and fill-up ballots printed weekly in the Motoring Section of the Philippine Star during the poll's 3-month run. These ballots may be submitted at designated Air21/Mail & More outlets and select Caltex service stations nationwide.