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Big plans ahead! Mitsubishi Philippines appoints Noriaki Hirakata as first board chair

VJ Bacungan · Jul 6, 2023 10:26 AM

noriaki hirakata


Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) is getting a substantial boost with the appointment of its first-ever board chairman.

The carmaker announced in a July 2023 press statement that Noriaki Hirakata, who also serves as the concurrent Assistant Executive Officer of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) in Japan, officially started in his new role on July 1, 2023.

MMPC said Hirakata’s main responsibility is to oversee the implementation of strategic business plans by the Executive Management Committee “in order to further solidify the brand’s position as market leader in the Philippines.”

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“The strategic appointment reflects MMPC’s stronger commitment to enhancing corporate governance and driving sustainable business growth,” MMPC said. 

“As Mitsubishi Motors Corporation shifts its focus towards the Philippines, MMC also aims to firm up mid to long-term business plan for Philippine market to ensure the continuous success of the brand in the country,” the company added.

Meanwhile, MMPC’s daily operations will continue to be managed by president and CEO Takeshi Hara.

Strong credentials

noriaki hirakata


Hirakata studied economics at Waseda University in Tokyo, graduating in 1986.

He started his career as an analyst and fund manager in the Institutional Investment Division of the Yasada Mutual Life insurance firm. 

Hirakata later served as managing director and equity analyst at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities from 1995 to 2011, winning awards for his work as the company’s leading Japanese automotive analyst.

He later moved to MMC in 2012 where he served in the Alliance Strategy Division. Hirakata was instrumental in forging the agreement between MMC and Nissan and played a leading role in developing the alliance’s medium-term product, technology and strategic plans.

Gunning for growth

mitsubishi motors philippines corporation plant


MMPC has consistently been the second-largest carmaker in the Philippines in terms of sales, behind long-time rival Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP).

In 2022, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) reported that MMPC sold 53,211 units or a 15.1 percent market share for that year. Meanwhile, TMP sold 174,106 units, accounting for 49.38 percent of the Philippine car market.

MMPC and TMP are also part of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program that aims to revitalize the local auto industry by providing ₱9 billion in government subsidies over six years to each qualified manufacturer. 

The carmaker must produce at least 200,000 units each in that period, all for domestic sale, with the majority of parts produced locally. On May 2023, the Private Sector Advisory Council announced that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would extend the CARS Program until 2028.

This came after production delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in 2020, that went on until the program’s original ending in 2022. In addition, MMPC and TMP cited reduced demand for cars because of higher excise taxes under the government’s tax-reform law.

The Department of Trade and Industry said as of December 2022, Toyota has only produced 134,242 Vios units, while Mitsubishi has built 72,923 Mirage and Mirage G4 units.

Japanese carmakers are also facing increasingly stiff competition from Chinese car brands that are offering new models with greater equipment levels and lower prices. Geely and Foton were part of CAMPI’s top 10 carmakers in 2022.

New production line?

mitsubishi xpander


In addition, MMPC is eyeing a new production line at its plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna, depending on incentives provided by the CARS Program.

MMC president and CEO Takao Kato said the company may locally assemble the popular Xpander and Xpander Cross multi-purpose vehicles in the Philippines. These models are currently imported as completely built units from Indonesia.

In addition, the production version of the Mitsubishi XFC Concept compact crossover is due to launch in Indonesia on August 2023, with electrified models also in the pipeline.

ALSO READ: X Marks the Spot? Will the Mitsubishi XFC be named XFORCE, Destinator, or something else?

"In the future, we plan to add an electrified variant to the lineup and to also roll it out in regions outside ASEAN," Kato in a speech at the concept’s launch in Vietnam on October 2022.

"We hope to grow the model from a vehicle for the ASEAN market to a global strategic vehicle, making it a core model like the sales-leading Xpander crossover MPV," he added.

Finally, the all-new 2024 Mitsubishi Triton pick-up truck will launch in Thailand on July 26, 2023. This is the successor of the popular Mitsubishi Strada, which was first launched in 2015.

What do you think MMPC and Hirakata-san should focus on to help grow its market share in the Philippines?

Rate this story now using the five stars below. It will help us provide content that you enjoy!

VJ Bacungan

Senior Writer

An award-winning multimedia journalist, editor, and host for online and TV who has written in-depth stories on road safety and the Philippine elections. Outside of the media, VJ is an accomplished motorsports champion, English teacher, and dancer.

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