It is indeed a remarkable achievement to stay committed in an industry which has gone through many unstable times for half a century. Universal Motors Corporation (UMC), assemble and distributor of Nissan light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in the Philippines is a fine example.

As part of its celebration, UMC recently introduced its Fortune Fifty program which offered big discounts on cash purchases and longer payment terms for auto financing on its LCV lineup. Mr. Toshiyuki Shiga, SVP of Nissan Japan also flew in to commemorate UMC's Golden moment as guest of honor alongside Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

UMC began its pioneering quest when it started on April 2, 1954. The company managed to see different automobile companies come and go, yet managed to maintain itself as a competitive force in the very competitive automotive industry. They ventured into the automotive industry by being the first assembler and distributor of Mercedes Benz cars and trucks in the country which started in 1955 until 1970.

By 1971, an exclusive partnership agreement with Nissan Motor Company Limited of Japan gave UMC the rights to carry the Datsun passenger car line. This venture allowed for exchange of technology in terms of assembly operations and design between the two companies and paved the way for a partnership that stood strong through five presidential administrations.

By 1984, a critical point where UMC stood at a crossroad, as the assembly and distribution of the Nissan vehicle line was divided between Pilipinas Nissan and UMC with the latter choosing to take over and concentrate with LCVs and recreational vehicles (RVs). "This was a major paradigm shift, at a time when LCVs did not enjoy much popularity," said Ms. Elizabeth Lee, SVP for Marketing of UMC.

In the early 1990s, new dealership concepts and service centers (Universal Family Center and Universal Technical Center) were developed to cater to the changing purchasing patterns of Filipino consumers. It also reflected UMC's acknowledgement of the importance of the family.

UMC has received numerous awards which include seven customer satisfaction awards in the last ten years against other brands. Its commitment to workplace quality earned an ISO 9002 certification, and was also the first assembler to receive the recognition. UMC has also won the Executive Vice President Award from Nissan Japan for its outstanding sales performance for the past three years as the Nissan Frontier topped sales charts to push its market standing.

Technological trailblazing and commitment to the Filipino automotive needs have brought UMC to the forefront of the automotive arena for half a century. It is the only 100% Filipino-owned and independent automotive assembler and distributor in the country today. "That distinction is made more outstanding by the fact that, unlike other competitors, UMC's product line consists of LCVs. All three major models (Frontier, Urvan and Patrol) have carved strong market shares in their respective segments despite relatively being higher priced than the product's direct competition," said Ms. Lee.