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Hancars, Inc.: Gray Market, Parallel Importer, or Automotive Visionary?

By definition, “gray market” is the trade of products or commodities through distribution channels that are not authorized by the manufacturer or proprietor of the products or commodities. Simply put, gray markets are simply unauthorized channels from which people can buy products that are not offered by the authorized distributor or dealer network. People sometimes have the wrong idea that the gray market is a dark, shady place to buy goods illegally.

On the other hand, a “parallel importer” is a trader who imports, markets and sells products and commodities that are already being imported, marketed and sold in a territory by an authorized distributor or dealer network. Buyers often turn to parallel importers because their prices are lower than the authorized importer / distributor /dealer or because the unauthorized parallel importers can supply the product or commodity faster or deliver these earlier than the authorized importer.

Not Really Gray Market

It wouldn’t be completely fair nor accurate to simply classify Hancars, Incorporated, which is located along Scout Rallos Street, in the Quezon City Scout Area, as a “gray market” importer. For one, Hancars is a duly-registered corporation that is led by Webin Dy Manzana and his wife, Elaine. The husband-and-wife tandem started their imported car business in 1999 when they imported two Hyundai Starex Turbo Intercooler passenger vans from South Korea and sold these vehicles at a rented apartment with a small 3-car garage.

Hancars proprietors Webin and Elaine Manzana

At the time, the authorized Philippine distributor of Hyundai cars was too focused on 4-door sedans for the taxi market while completely ignoring the customers who were clamoring for passenger vans. Hancars built a solid customer base for the Starex, which was one of the first vans to feature Common Rail Diesel Injection (CRDI) systems and a turbocharger with intercooler. With hard work, dedication and commitment to service, Hancars soon dominated the market for the Hyundai Starex but their success ushered in a new challenge.

1st generation Hyundai Starex CRDI Turbo Diesel passenger van

From South Korea to Puebla, Mexico

Hancars’ highly successful marketing and sales of the Starex vans placed the Philippines in the map of Hyundai Motor Company of South Korea, which led to the 2001 appointment of Hyundai Automotive Resources, Inc. (HARI) as the official authorized Hyundai distributor in the Philippines. For one reason or another, Hancars wasn’t appointed as a Hyundai dealer, in spite of their exemplary sales performance selling hundreds of Starex vans. Soon, the writing was on the wall and Hancars’ supply of Starex vans began drying up.

Various generations of Hyundai Starex passenger vans

But Webin’s passion for cars did not allow him to quit the auto import game. As a Volkswagen enthusiast, he knew that there’s a market for Beetles, the classic Type 1 German kafer (bug). In 2002, with the support of the Mexican ambassador, he started importing brand-new Hecho in Mexico (Made in Mexico) Beetles with fuel-injected air-cooled flat-4 engines and, get this, factory air-conditioning! After importing these retro modern beauties, he became so engrossed in the Beetle and VW culture that he even assembled a VW Dune Buggy for himself!

Mexican-made 2002 Volkswagen Beetle

From Retro Modern EFI Bugs to Futuristic EVs

Unfortunately, the Volkswagen assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico made the last Type 1 Beetle in 2003, which ended the Bug’s 65-year production run that began in 1938. Again, Hancars’ supply line started to dry up and, with no new Beetles to sell, Webin continued to bring Korean vehicles to the market. He was thankful that Hancars had developed the reputation of providing buyers with vehicles equipped with advanced features, such as Clean Emissions CRDI Turbo Intercooler, that were a few years ahead of the market.

Hancars continued to service and maintain the Hyundai vehicles of their loyal customers.

Webin wanted to capitalize on Hancars’ good reputation as well as build a solid foundation for his business. In 2013, the couple built a modern building on their 700-square meter property at 16 Scout Rallos Street to house the new Hancars showroom and service center. As the clamor to protect the environment grew, Webin shifted his focus and began marketing electric vehicles (EVs). Hancars offered EVs such as the Volkswagen ID3, ID4, ID6 and ID Buzz models, KIA EV9, and Toyota bz4x, which are not sold locally at the moment, as well as EVs that have no distributors here like the Smart Brabus EV, and Tesla Model 3 and Model Y.

Volkswagen ID3 at the Hancars service area/stockyard

Volkswagen ID4 EV at the Hancars showroom

A fleet of brand-new Volkswagen ID6 EVs waiting for their new owners

You can order a Volkswagen ID Buzz from Hancars

This KIA EV9 just arrived complete with all its protective shielding and covers.

Toyota Motor Philippines has not introduced their bz4X EV to the market but Hancars can deliver one to you, if you want.

If you want exclusivity, Hancars has a Smart Brabus EV readily available…

… or be the first to have a Tesla or two in your neighborhood.

Service Support + Customer Satisfaction

True to Hancars’ commitment to customer satisfaction, the dealership facility features a service workshop with several work bays for all kinds of mechanical, electrical, and paint and body repairs. The work bays are manned by highly-competent, well-trained technicians while their body repair and paint shop is led by a Triple A-rated master painter, uses the latest water-based paint technology, and can accept all paint work including high-end European cars. Webin proudly states that their workshop slogan is “Do It Right The First Time. No Shortcuts.

Volkswagen ID6 undergoes regular maintenance at Hancars’ Service Center

A customer’s vehicle undergoes body and paint repair at Hancars’ workshop

“Unlike some other gray market or parallel automotive importers, we have a fully-functional dealership with a service center”, declared Webin. “We’ve had customers who initially dealt with some hole-in-the-wall online auto dealer who scams people by offering a low price at the start of the transaction, only to ask for more money from the customer just to have the vehicle finally released and delivered. After delivery, the customer is left to maintain or service the vehicles themselves. With Hancars, our customers are happy that they have a service center that they can rely on to maintain and work on their vehicles.”

Whether or not Hancars, Inc. falls into the category of being a gray market trader or that of a parallel importer, it is important to note that Hancars can also be considered as an automotive visionary – predating the demand for clean emission CRDI turbo diesels, retro modern classic Beetles, and now, long-range, top-of-the-line electric vehicles – while being led by a passionate car enthusiast who sees to it that their customers get their money’s worth all the time, every time.