Monday, September 25, 2000, was the day when AutoIndustriya.com first went live. That was sixteen years ago. Let's absorb that for a bit.
The Olympics were being held in Sydney, not Athens, Beijing, London or Rio. There was no social media, though people were chatting via mIRC and/or ICQ. Facebook didn't exist yet, neither did Friendster. Internet was still primarily a dial-up affair, so much so that you'd yell at your mom, brother, sister or father for picking up the phone while you were in the middle of downloading something from Limewire. Or Napster.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the true breakout movie while we were still reeling from Mission Impossible 2. The first X-Men movie was still being shown but the first Fast and the Furious movie was still a year away from hitting theaters. Heck, back then, we even had an actor in Malacanang, only to depose him a few months later.
Many things truly have changed since the first day that AutoIndustriya went live. For those who aren't familiar, AutoIndustriya first started as a forum. It was a community started by two car guys, Benj Ngo and Brent Co; a place where they and other like-minded car enthusiasts can get together in cyberspace (a term we rarely use nowadays) and talk about anything car-related.
I used to just observe a lot back then, especially since I was just a college kid. Yes, I was a college freshman during that time, though our school used the term “frosh”. In those days, there really were only a few local sites where you could get your dose of car related content. Kotse.com, Tsikot.com, or even Dragracingpinoy.com were some of the most popular around.
Eventually, the guys decided to shift the focus of AI to become an automotive news and review portal, especially since most of the reviews we could get our hands on back in the day were from international magazines. It was a learning process really, but they started doing news that covered the auto industry and test driving cars. The first review that was uploaded was in 2001, and it was a Nissan Sentra.
In 2007, AutoIndustriya.com made its first major rebrand as we launched our new logo at the first-ever Philippine International Motor Show where we displayed an R34 Nissan Skyline GT-R lent to us by our good friend TurboAWD.
I actually joined AutoIndustriya.com as a contributor in 2008. Back then, AutoIndustriya was starting to make waves as a media site. The forum was still strong back then, though many of the discussions were starting to shift to social media pages such as Facebook. Still, if you check our forum page today, there's quite a bit of activity amongst our loyal users and new viewers alike.
That first day when I actually went full time at AI in 2009, there were only two or three of us there at that little office along Tomas Morato. It was hard work as we aimed to accomplish a lot with very limited resources. We had to sort out how we do news, fully implement an updated (and continually updated) new car buyer's guide, figure out how to do features, adjust the way we do reviews to be more concise and, most importantly, honest. There was a lot to do, but we enjoyed the challenge, and we still do. We even built a race car that joined the local drift circuit.
And so we grew. It's a lot of hard work (and still is) but our team of three has now grown to twelve. And we now occupy the larger office next door. And there's also more space for our Playstation Gran Turismo simulator. Actually, now we have two.
We recognized the changes that social media have made to what we do. Most of it we see as positive, and we adapt to meet it. But there are topics that we won't touch anymore, particularly those that revolve around counterflowers, dashcam footage, incidents of road rage and what not. Covering those kinds of incidents are not what we, as car enthusiasts, get up in the morning for.
Once upon a time, we averaged maybe two reviews of new cars a month; now we do three a week. Minimum. Before we attended a few events in a month; now it's hard to get everyone together as there are launches, drives, press conferences happening left, right and center. But really, the biggest change is in the industry. In 2000 CAMPI reported that they sold 83,949 units as a whole. In 2015, CAMPI reported 288,609 units sold. So yes, one reason behind this monstrous traffic is that a lot of us bought cars, and the spending and development of infrastructure simply could not keep up. Growing pains, they call it.
Where will we be in another sixteen years? Maybe by then phones will be implantable into our wrists and keyboards can be just projected onto a desk. Maybe by then we'll have far more infrastructure to handle the traffic jams on the ground, in the air, and on the internet. Maybe cars will be fully electric or even fly above the road like in Back to the Future II, or maybe by then we'll be watching Vin Diesel in Fast and the Furious XVI.
Whatever happens, we're excited for it and we'll be ready. We just hope we won't have a boxer in Malacanang.