By Janina C. Lim, Reporter

THE AYALA group on Wednesday officially launched Chinese auto brand Maxus in the Philippines, with the introduction of a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) and van.

Reginald G. See, general manager of the Automobile Central Enterprise, Inc. — a wholly owned subsidiary of AC Industrial Technology Holdings, Inc., said the company targets to sell up to 600 units this year, but aims to “double or triple” sales next year.

“We have a modest target this year because it has only six months to come out. We are looking at about 500 units to 600 units, but we plan to double or triple that next year with new product offerings. We start off with two products first, the G10 and the V80, but next year we will be coming out with more,” Mr. See told reporters on Wednesday night in Parañaque City.

The Maxus G10 is a nine-seater MPV, powered by a 1.9-liter turbo Euro 4-compliant diesel engine. It has an introductory price of P1.680 million.

The V80 comes in three variants — V80 Comfort, V80 Transport and V80 Flex.

The V80 Comfort, a 13-seater van, is priced at P1.57 million. The V80 Flex, best for transport of goods, products and services, with its 6.9 cubic meter space and carrying capacity of 1.1 tons, sells for P1.19 million.

V80 Transport, an 18-seater passenger van, intended for shuttle service business, has a P1.288-million price tag.

The Maxus vehicles can be used by small and medium enterprises in need of a regular delivery vehicle, as well as for shuttle and tourism services, as the Ayala group sees growth in the light commercial vehicle segment.

All Maxus vehicles come with a three-year or 100,000 kilometer warranty coverage.

At present, Maxus has a dealership with showroom and after-sales facility at the Greenfield District, Mandaluyong City. It will open within the year three more dealerships in the Manila Bay area, Quezon City and Cebu.

“Soon we will be appointing more dealers,” Mr. See said.

As a new player, Mr. See said it is a challenge for Maxus to penetrate the market but hopes the competitive vehicle prices will attract buyers.

The firm also intends to counter the negative perception on the quality of China-made products, according to Mr. See. He added Ayala is banking that the improving quality of products from China will entice buyers as well.

The Maxus is Ayala’s fifth auto brand in the market and second one that the firm launched in less than six months, the first being the relaunch of the Korean brand Kia.

The Maxus brand was first rolled out in 2004 by British firm Layeland Motor Ltd. and acquired in 2010 by Shanghai-based SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd.

The brand is present in 46 countries across America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa.