‘Virtual’ is the new vehicle vernacular
THERE’S NO doubt about it, the auto industry is not just back; it’s now gaining momentum as well. After opening dealership doors (albeit cautiously) to customers over the last couple of weeks, brands are starting to take the perceived next step: the presentation of new vehicles.
Last Thursday, Sojitz G Auto Philippines (SGAP), authorized distributor and service provider of the Geely marque in the Philippines, took that leap and digitally unveiled to the media the second vehicle of its portfolio here. The Geely Azkarra compact SUV now joins the previously launched Coolray.
The public launch, also in digital form, subsequently happened last Saturday, 6 p.m. — streamed through the Geely Philippines website, and on the company’s social media accounts on Facebook and YouTube.
Also known as the Geely Boyue Pro, the Azkarra goes by various names in different territories — taking the Emgrand series and Proton brand badges elsewhere. The version that makes its way here “is completely redesigned from its first-generation model (launched in 2016),” said Geely Philippines in a release.
Reported Geely Design China Vice-President and General Manager Guy Burgoyne, “After listening to consumer feedback, we also wanted the user to have easier access to Azkarra’s technology and storage spaces by further refining our interior design… When it was first launched, it was given the nickname ‘the most beautiful SUV in China’ — with such high praise we knew we had to work harder on the second and third generations.” During the media sneak peek, he confessed to being fascinated by our jeepneys, and executed a design interpretation of a rather modern-looking “Geely Jeepney” which he presented to the (virtual) audience.
Back to the Azkarra, of note in the model is the mild hybrid technology on one of its two variants. Said SGAP President and CEO Mikihisa Takayama, “Right now, we see that the auto industry is gearing towards hybrid and electric vehicle technology as it becomes increasingly popular.” The Azkarra is said to be the first in its segment equipped with this technology.
The Azkarra’s all-wheel-drive 48V EMS (Electric Motor Synergy) Luxury variant (priced at P1.598 million) is motivated by a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine “complemented” by a 48V belt-starter generator (BSG), a 48V-12 DCDC converter, 48V lithium-ion battery module, and battery management system (BMS). It returns 190hp and 300Nm of torque, and enables the Azkarra to reach 100kph from standstill in less than 10 seconds.
According to Geely, the BSG assists the gasoline engine, ultimately promising up to 15% in fuel savings. The 48V battery is charged by the engine during cruising and through kinetic energy when the brakes are engaged. Fuel is saved as the engine shuts down when the vehicle is stationary, and the 48V battery can provide up to 225Nm of torque from 1,000rpm “for a powerful start,” and deliver “maximum assistance of 10kW and 50Nm.”
Geely Philippines recently announced that all its vehicles (which now include units of the Azkarra, of course) sold here are already equipped with CN95 filters — designed to “filter out dust, harmful gases, particulate matter (PM) 2.5 particles, droplets with diameters larger than 0.74 microns which are often attached to coronaviruses.” Previous buyers of the Coolray without the CN95 filters can bring in their vehicles to a Geely dealership, and these will be fitted with those for free.
The other variant of the Azkarra is the more affordable Premium trim (P1.438 million), which is front-wheel driven. Geely Auto Group CEO An Conghui described the Azkarra as “an affordable luxury SUV. With its technological power, refined interior, healthy space, and safety features.”
By the way, Geely is sweetening the pot further by throwing in a hefty P100,000 discount for people plopping down reservations until the end of July.