By Aries B. Espinosa
THE usually placid headquarters of Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) at the Laguna Technopark in Biñan, Laguna province was abuzz with activity on the morning of Jan. 26. And it wasn’t just because of the daily “rajio taiso,” or the morning stretching exercises Japanese companies use to wake up the sleepy muscles of its staff.
This time, a different kind of stretching was involved, and it needed the renowned fuel-efficient RZ4E Blue Power engine of Isuzu’s light commercial vehicle workhorses, the Mu-X SUV and the D-Max pickup.
The national level/championship stage of the 2018 Isuzu Fuel Eco Challenge was held on the grounds of the IPC main headquarters, and 40 hopefuls — winners at the dealership level of the challenge held starting Sept. 17 last year — aimed to stretch the most mileage out of their Mu-X or D-Max vehicles using the least amount of Shell Pilipinas diesel fuel.
These finalists only had four kilometers to prove their skills and light-footedness behind the wheel. They also had to contend with the numerous speed bumps, slow-moving trucks and intersections along the perimeter road of the Technopark, which served as the official course for the economy challenge.
The Isuzu Fuel Eco Challenge served as IPC’s way of promoting and advocating fuel-efficient driving among existing Isuzu vehicle owners and eventual Isuzu vehicle buyers, as well as highlighting the unparalleled efficiency, power, ride comfort and durability of the two light commercial vehicles.
In the end, three winners from each vehicle category emerged. The winners in the Mu-X category — Leonardo Eugenio (from Isuzu General Santos), Kart Thomas de Leon (Isuzu Bulacan) and Elizabeth Vinarao (Isuzu Commonwealth) — squeezed out 17.10 km/liter, 17.20 km/liter and 17.60 km/liter, respectively. On the other hand, the three winners in the D-Max category — Eric Empestan (Isuzu Bacolod), Gerald Debblois (Isuzu General Santos) and Gerico Ponce (Isuzu Makati) — registered 18.20 km/liter, 20.20 km/liter and 20.70 km/liter, respectively.
For their achievements, each of the six winners will get to enjoy an all-expense-paid trip for two to Thailand, scheduled this April.
“IPC has always valued, and strove for, not just power and reliability in all its vehicles, but also fuel efficiency. Our RZ4E Blue Power engine epitomizes our effort to produce the most fuel-efficient diesel engine, capable of producing more power for less fuel, which is a perfect match to our economical drivers. It is a very timely reminder that, despite the prevailing volatility of fuel prices in the market, Filipino drivers can save more on fuel expenses with the help of a fuel-efficient partner, the Isuzu Mu-X and D-MAX RZ4E,” said IPC president Hajime Koso, during a program announcing the winners held on Jan. 26 at the company’s headquarters.
Meanwhile, some automotive journalists who tried their hand at the fuel economy challenge managed readings of as much as 24.9 km/liter — sparking theories that those heavy on the ink were light on their feet.