Big plans ahead! Mitsubishi Philippines appoints Noriaki Hirakata as first board chair
VJ Bacungan · Jul 6, 2023 10:26 AM
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.”
“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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.