The Manila Motor Show (MMS) is different from other shows that feature passenger cars and commercial vehicles in the sense that it aims to be an automotive industry-wide tradeshow with emphasis on the vehicle manufacturers, handling all facets of Philippine motoring. With the ASEAN auto shows as its inspiration, the Manila Motor Show hoped to be a venue to showcase all the vehicles, products and services that comprise the local motoring industry. This will allow consumers to gauge what products they need/want in an all-encompassing, information-laden setting.

In the three days that covered the event (April 28-30, 2005), the World Trade Center (WTC) area in Pasay City handled over 68,000 heads in total attendance, averaging 23,000 auto-philes per day, according to figures from Worldbex International Services, Inc., Alvin Uy and Jason and Ulysses Ang. All 68,000 braved the sweltering heat to soak in the sights and sounds of the MMS' debut.

For example, the abundance of preview exhibits within the MMS proved that the average Filipino motorist is still interested in what's new with regards to new products. A preview of the (currently) US-and-Europe only Ford Focus yielded 482 inquiries, reinforced by the display of a specially imported WRC (World Rally Championship)-inspired Focus. On the other hand, a literal ten minute drive-by within the WTC area was conducted by Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation using its Fortuner SUV, providing a sneak preview of the said vehicle's much-awaited arrival on Philippine shores.

Another example was the opening ceremonies of the MMS in the morning of April 28, the event's first day. Hosted by Plinky Recto and featuring speeches from TMA (Truck Manufacturers Association) head Luie Dy Buncio and CAMPI (Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc.) head Elizabeth Lee, the show's opening ceremonies featured a ten minute dancefest featuring the Douglas Nierras-directed Powerdance group. But what attracted more people to the opening ceremonies was the motorcade of the 2004 Car of the Year Philippines' ten category winners. The ten category winners were driven by select members of the Car Awards Group, Inc. (CAGI, an association of motoring journalists from different publications and webzines), with Binibining Pilipinas titleists and semifinalists riding shotgun.

Report from the booths

BMW Philippines took advantage of the MMS and put out the biggest indoor single showcase, a 345 square meter (sq. m.) display that made use of a bevy of halogen light and floodlights to literally put the new E90 3-Series (a 330i), a 2004 525i, a cordoned-off 745Li, the new two-liter, diesel-powered BMW X3, an X5, the full line of BMW Motorrad Bikes and a 2004 Z4 in good lights. In order to attract people to the BMW display, BMW's immensely popular "The Hire" short film series were featured on an overhead projector-like screen and was accompanied by booming audio.

Not to be outdone, the folks over at Viking Cars, Inc. and Volvo literally and figuratively brought over its Pasong Tamo Extension showroom to its 210 sq. m. MMS showcase. Surprisingly, the Volvo display did not involve Ikea (a popular Swedish-based chain of furniture suppliers).

The 'showroom' featured generous use of parquet and faux light-colored wood covering from floor to walls, the use of huge railings that served as the boundaries of the Volvo booth and the use of a double-sided opaque glass screen that served as a mirror to show the new "Conversations With Volvo" commercial and the latest videos of all the models in the Volvo Philippines product line. Not surprisingly, the Volvo display bagged the "Best Exhibition Booth" on the second day of the MMS.

The manufacturer from Dearborn , Michigan (aka Ford) also made use of its allotted space, providing a 210 sq. m. interior showcase (with the aforementioned Ford Focus models and its Mazda booth in tow) and 1000+ sq. m. of outside space. The latter was especially interesting because the said 1000+ sq. m. of outside space was used to create a special off-road track exclusively for the use of Ford's commercial vehicle (CV) line; resulting in over 100 inquiries for Ford CVs such as the Escape, Everest, Ranger and Explorer lines.

The other US-based manufacturer present at the MMS (Chrysler) merged both its Mercedes Benz and Chrysler showcases and positioned themselves as one of the first booths one sees after the entrance. A light tower that indirectly shone light unto the WRC-inspired Ford Focus, over 90 30-50 watt lamps and floodlights and a car rotisserie showcasing the new CLS sportscar helped in garnering attention. The 2005 Chrysler Town and Country, 2005 Dodge Durango and 2005 Chrysler 300C also made its public debut at the event. The attention to the said booth was so much that one person (unidentified as of press time) bought a Mercedes Benz CLS on the MMS' second day.

Also positioning themselves one of the first booths one sees after the entrance were the Peugeot and Hyundai displays, which displayed in public for the first time the 307SW and the 807 multipurpose vehicle (MPV) for Peugeot. The Korean manufacturer displayed in public for the first time the Hyundai Getz and Matrix CRDi compact cars, the 2005 Sonata saloon and the 2005 Tucson SUV.

Mitsubishi took full advantage of its rally racing heritage by displacing in its showcase an evolution of the Lancer Evolution lineup, from the first Evolution to the Evolution Eight. Sadly, there was no Evolution Nine present to complete the lineup, but the Evo Nine's absence was hardly missed as the presence of the 2005 Montero Sport and Grandis, the Adventure AUV, the Outlander compact SUV and the current model Pajero at the MMS more than made up for the supercar's absence.

Another strong contender for CV vehicle supremacy, Isuzu Philippine Corporation, generated lots of interest by showing two three-dimensional cross sections of its Sportivo/Highlander AUV and D-Max pickup.

Jaguar and Land Rover Philippines provided the most expensive showcase (in terms of the accumulated price of its display vehicles) by exhibiting a Ferrari 360 Modena, a Maserati Spyder, a Land Rover Discovery Three, a Land Rover Freelander, a Range Rover, a Jaguar X-Type and a Jaguar XJ. This display of extravagantly priced vehicles (net MSRP value: over Php 52 million) was a magnet for camera-equipped casual automo-philes, who wasted no time in having their photos taken with the said vehicles, primarily the cordoned-off 360 Modena and the Maserati.

With so many attendees at all three days of the event, there is clamor from the motoring public and the vehicle manufacturers to make the MMS an April tradition. Whether it becomes a reality or not remains to be seen.