Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
FOLLOWING its release of people movers along with the commencement of business here nine months ago, Maxus Philippines now throws its hat into the highly competitive pickup arena. A total of three variants of the Maxus T60 join the local portfolio of the China-headquartered brand which touts a deep British history.
The company reported in a release that T60 is the “the longest and widest” in the mid-size pickup class, “allowing varied requirements of cargo and passenger transport.” Under the hood rumbles a 2.8-liter diesel engine with a variable-geometry turbocharger and Drive Mode Select, mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The system generates a peak of 150ps at 3,400rpm and maximum torque of 360Nm at 1,600 to 2,800rpm.
Maxus lists the standard features found on the T60: an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Mirrorlink, rear camera and sensors, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, and rear air-conditioning vents. The pickup boasts a wading depth of 800mm. The top variant 4×4 Elite additionally boasts LED headlamps and daytime running lamps, electronic stabilization, power driver-seat adjustment, push-start ignition, a larger 10-inch monitor, and automatic air-conditioning.
Meanwhile, in a speech, Automotive Central Enterprise, Inc. President Felipe Estrella pointed to a whole suite of safety features in the T60. “Thanks to the European-style double layer welding technology, tire pressure monitoring system, the six air bags, and a host of other safety features, the T60 has scored the highest five-star rating in the Australian NCAP safety test,” he said. “This is a true testament to the pickup’s adherence to global safety standards.” The vehicle also has Isofix seats and an immobilizer.
In an exclusive interview with Velocity, AC Industrials CEO Arthur Tan said it makes sense to bring in the T60. “In the Philippine market, the pickup and mini SUV are the fastest-growing segments. We (also) already have a strategy that we’re going to support the entire spectrum of motoring needs in the country… including passenger cars, light commercial and commercial vehicles.”
The automobile brands within the purview of the Ayala conglomerate are “looking at all the different white spaces available, looking at those actually growing independent of the current economic situation, and we’ll make sure that we have a pipeline that will fit inside those segments. And the T60 is one of those that perfectly fit both in terms of need, in terms of growth, in terms of competitive pricing, and feature requirement,” he added.
Perhaps cognizant of the battle it has to wage to secure its place in a market full of more established competition, Maxus Philippines is upping the ante by backing up the T60 with a five-year/100,000-km. warranty. Even its preventive maintenance schedule (PMS) promises more convenience and savings to customers. Following the first 5,000-km servicing, customers only need to bring in the T60 once a year or 15,000 kms — whichever comes first. The company also offers 24/7 emergency roadside assistance, pickup and delivery service for customers, and on-site servicing for corporate fleet accounts.
“Filipinos are very, very discriminating,” added Mr. Tan. “We’re very knowledgeable about cars, and we understand the plus and minus of features under the hood, of convenience, and of safety. On all those factors, we saw that the T60 ticks the boxes.”
At the launch event, guests were able to test-drive and experience the T60 models through a gauntlet of off-road and on-road challenges. But surely tipping the scales in its favor is the pricing of the new model. The Maxus T60 4×2 Pro MT, 4×2 Pro AT, and 4×4 Elite AT are offered at special introductory prices of P948,000, P1,028,000, and P1,278,000, respectively. Maxus Philippines General Manager Reginald See described the T60 as “packed with features at an entry level price.”
Still, it’s not just about the numbers, averred Mr. Tan. “It’s always an indication, but it’s more than that. Having the Ayala brand behind it helps build a certain level of trust among the public. It’s a new brand, although it has a very long British heritage, but Ayala has been here more than 185 years, and we’re going to be here for the next 185 years.”
After-sales support is also an important pillar of what Maxus is trying to build here. “We’re putting in a pipeline of dealerships, and we’re making sure we vet those dealers very well; that they will give the customer experience that we like to impart. We’re managing the distribution part of it and at the same time we’re setting up our own dealerships in order to be a reference for everybody else.”
All T60 units come from Shanghai, China, which begs the question of whether or not there will be a risk of supply disruption in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The issue of disruption permeates across all brands,” Mr. Tan said. “There’s no single brand globally that would not be affected. So there’s no reason to think that Maxus will be singled out differently from what is happening across the board. Everybody will be in the same playing field.”
The Maxus brand is owned by SAIC Motor — ranked among the top 10 automakers globally — which sold more than seven million units in 2018. The Ayala executive concluded with a smile: “Now, the advantage that we have is that we’re working directly with the clear biggest manufacturer in China. So in terms of pecking order, if there was a supply chain issue, the big one wins, right?”
For more information, visit www.maxus.com.ph or like and follow the Maxus Philippines Facebook page and Instagram account (@maxusph). Maxus showrooms are located in Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Taguig South, Cebu, and Iloilo.