What do you remember from the year 2000?
There was the infamous dikya-caused power outage, the ILOVEYOU virus, and the impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada began, just to name a few.
Now, it wasn't all gloom and doom during that time. They Playstation 2 just came out and the Y2K bug wasn't as crippling as it was supposed to be. Heck, people born in 2000 are now old enough to get licenses.
For us, however, the year 2000 was the birth of AutoIndustriya.com. So before we cap off our 18th anniversary year, we decided take a fond look back at what the motoring landscape looked like when we first started.
The best-sellers of Y2K
We'd like you to guess what the best-selling car of 2000 was. If you guessed Toyota Revo, you're totally predictable...and totally right. Toyota's AUV was the country's top seller that year with 11,818 units sold.
In the year 2000, there were a total of 83,887 new cars sold and the top ten best-sellers consisted of the Mitsubishi Adventure, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Isuzu Hi-Lander, Nissan Sentra Exalta, Honda City, Toyota Hiace, Honda CR-V and Mitsubishi L300. The top five brands were Toyota, Mitsubishi, Honda, Nissan and Isuzu with Toyota being the top-sellers that year.
Looking back, the sales figures of 2000 were pretty small, given the fact that, last year, 473,943 vehicles were sold. If the Revo were to be sold today with the same sales numbers, it wouldn't even make the top ten of 2017. Sales have been slower this year but it's still definitely a lot more than the 83,887 figure of 2000.
Before they became MPVs
These days, the Toyota Innova is the lone truck-based multi-purpose vehicle on offer. It remains unrivaled in terms of its layout with Isuzu and Mitsubishi yet to come out with their own high-riding MPV. But back in the year 2000, it was a lot different and simpler. They were called AUVs or Asian Utility Vehicles.
There was the Revo, which was that year's best-selling vehicle. It looked like an SUV, had the ride height of one, and there was one variant for almost everyone. While the Innova stuck to that formula, there's one thing the new MPV can't do that the good ol' Revo can: the ability to seat 10. Granted, you were packed in like sardines with 4 in the second row but it didn't matter; it can seat up to 10 people.
The same goes with Mitsubishi's Adventure. It too climbed up the sales charts and can do what the Revo can as well. Released in late 1997, the Adventure would eventually become Mitsubishi's constant best-seller right up until it was discontinued last year. As for Isuzu, they were getting ready to come out with a new AUV to replace the Hi-Lander, the Crosswind.
Civic vs. Corolla
Over in the passenger car segment, it was Honda and Toyota who were butting heads. No economic crisis could slow down the intense rivalry of the two brands, especially the Civic vs. Corolla debate. The two filled up the roads and practically became every staple of just about every garage. College students had them, so did bank managers, doctors, rising executives; if you didn't have one in the garage, you always knew one who did.
The Civic had a sporting edge over the rather mundane 'Love Life' Corolla (so nicknamed after the Donna Lewis song in the commercial). It had advanced suspension, wonderful VTEC engines, sweet handling, and fantastic space efficiency. Of course, there was the Civic SiR which cemented the Civic's legacy in the country with fresh, stock examples still fetching for half a million pesos.
But in the end, the Corolla would still pip the Civic in the sales charts because it catered to an even wider audience. Fleets lapped them up by the boatloads, and so did taxi operators. The wide variety of variants helped too from the bare bones XL, all the way up to the plush (for the time) 1.8 SE-G. The Altis name also appeared for the first time, but as the top-of-the-line variant only.
Rise of the SUVs
The term 'crossover' had yet to enter public consciousness but we were starting to see the wave of these high-riding hatchbacks by the turn of the millennium. Again, it was Honda and Toyota butting heads in this new class of vehicle. From Tochigi hailed the CR-V and from Aichi, the RAV4. To say that the impact of these two cars was substantial is an understatement, as the country has now exploded with SUV options in just about every size class.
In terms of sales however, it was the CR-V that trounced the RAV4, owing to a lower base price and the likely because it was here ahead of the RAV4 (the RAV4 came out first in Japan ahead of the CR-V). Nonetheless, the two brought SUV ownership at a lower price point and kick-started a revolution.
Of course, that didn't mean the traditional SUVs weren't racking up good sales. Nissan Philippines at the time had just come out with the all-new Patrol, replacing the massive (yet strangely cramped) Safari. Mitsubishi had also recently updated the evergreen Pajero by introducing the Fieldmaster facelift the year before. Then, there's Toyota with the all-new (at the time) Land Cruiser 100, which became a common sight in posh villages, the Congress carpark, and, occasionally, the trail.
If anything, the millennium would be the start of the whole SUV craze in the country, and the whole world.
A million pesos gets you a lot of car
What can a million pesos get you 18 years ago? Quite a lot actually.
Oh how we yearn for the days of seeing sub-1 million peso price tags on cars. Remember when a Toyota Corolla 1.6 GLI was about Php 650,000? Lancers, Sentras, and all the other compact sedans from the day hovered around that price point too. Here's another price tag that will blow the minds of some young readers: A Civic SiR was less than Php 750,000. Yes kids, back then, you can have a sweet-handling sedan for much less than a million pesos.
Sounds good right? Let's keep those rose-tinted glasses on a little bit longer shall we? A Starex at the time crept close to Php 1,000,000, which sounds like great value today. Also, if you were to spend just a little over a million pesos on a car back in 2000, you could get yourself a RAV4, CR-V, Accord, or Camry. For those with luxury aspirations in mind, a BMW 316i could be yours for well under Php 2 million.
But cars back then, just like now, were expensive at the time. If you adjust prices for inflation, the prices you saw back in 2000 have doubled. That means something like a 2000 Honda City LXi automatic, which retailed for about Php 450,000, would be about Php 900,000 in today's money. When you consider the equipment levels and prices of the current model, the one now sounds a whole lot more value-packed, doesn't it?
Also, the economy wasn't doing so well back then. Relatively fresh from the Asian Economic Crisis, the country was in pretty bad shape. Minimum wage was half what it is now and the exchange rate was eye-wateringly high. So yes, the prices sound affordable now, but wind back the clock and buying a car in the Philippines wasn't all that rosy. And you can toss in then-President Joseph Estrada's plunder trial.
It's difficult to imagine now but the North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway actually weren't that long back in the day. In fact, there weren't really a lot of highways to go about in the year 2000. Some of the routes we now use often were either under construction, or still being drawn up. Construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac (SCTEX) hasn't even begun at the time and it would take five years more before major work started.
NLEX was only up to Santa Ines while SLEX didn't even connect to the STAR Tollway. In fact, STAR would take another year before it would be accessible to motorists, albeit not the whole route we know today. It would take another nine years before SLEX and STAR would be integrated with one another.
As for the Skyway, parts of it were open by that time. Skyway Stage 1 opened in 1999, and our Inside Man recalled the parallel temporary ramps at Bicutan to get up (literally) on that highway. It would be another year before the highway would be completed. Even further south in Cebu, the South Road Properties route was still in its infancy, and was completed in 2005 over a reclaimed area.
Up North meanwhile and the Tipo-Subic Expressway had been in operation for quite some time by then. Also, Marcos Highway was being rehabilitated thanks to a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Council or JICA. The result was the Badiwan Tunnel and the viaduct in Tuba. With a bit of change left from the JICA loan, a flyover was then built in front of the Baguio General Hospital.
2000 vs. 2018: How far have we come?
From time to time, it's nice to take a look back at things. Cars were simpler and less complex, as vehicles of that era would be some of the last of the analogue ones. We could tinker with them and fix it up ourselves too. There was less traffic and gas, even if you adjust it for inflation, wasn't that expensive. Harsh realities of the local economy aside, the year 2000 was good time to be a car enthusiast. Not to mention the tuning scene was gaining more momentum.
So have things taken a dreary turn?
You'll hear a lot of people say that cars are more boring now. Electronic driving assists, softer steering, heavier weights and more isolated feel are just some of the things people mention about the cars, and motoring of today. Traffic's gotten worse with construction areas left, right, and center, the sheer volume of cars has also led to more gridlocked traffic in major cities, and boy did the excise tax put a much higher price tag on cars. Things look bleak, if those are the only things you look at, that is.
But hold on, take a step back and just look at the barrage of choices you have these days. Owning a crossover has become more affordable, more so pickup trucks even as they become more advanced, and more comfortable for daily driving.
You also no longer have to shell out mega bucks for a tough, off-road ready SUV anymore either thanks to the wave of mid-sized SUVs like the Fortuner, Montero Sport, and others like it. We also have more access to performance cars. We could now walk into a showroom and see (and if you're lucky, buy) cars like the Nissan GT-R or Honda Civic Type R, something unimaginable 18 years ago.
And yes, it's traffic in the Metro now but getting out of the city is easier now thanks to an extended highway network which has cut down travel times significantly. Just imagine if we still had the same infrastructure from 18 years ago today. It would be utter chaos with today's volume of vehicles.
So while we still have a long way to go when it comes to motoring, we sure have come a long way in the past 18 years. Improved infrastructure, better valued cars, and more choices are just some of the highlights of this current decade, and it's all for the better.
It's nice to look back at the past, but it's also nice to look forward and be excited about the things to come in motoring. So here's a toast to the past 18 years, and also, to the years ahead. Who knows, you could be looking back at this year or decade with fondness in the future too.