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Figure represents 40% decline from 2019 total By Kap Maceda Aguila THE PHILIPPINE auto industry finally puts a lid on a turbulent 2020 — a year...
THE TOYOTA Technical Center Shimoyama, situated in a mountainous region between Toyota City and Okazaki, has a central test course 5.3 kilometers long that features a 250-foot elevation change, lots of curves, and terrain types. The track draws inspiration from the Nürburgring Nordschleife, “which is famous throughout the world for its grueling driving conditions.”
IT’S OFTEN been said that the key to the resurgence of the vehicle industry in the age of COVID-19 is the willingness of financial institutions to extend car loans. Depending on who one talks to, the percentage of car buyers who depend on financial instruments to complete an auto purchase can range from 70% to 85%.
PANASONIC Manufacturing Philippines Corp. (PMPC), importer and distributor of the Japanese electronics company’s range of products, announced recently that its proprietary Nanoe X technology has been verified by global contract research organization Texcell to have an “an inhibitory effect… with the benefits of hydroxyl radicals on the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).”
THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism (DoT), according to Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, recently conducted a survey to ascertain people’s confidence with traveling — “even in the absence of a cure or vaccine for COVID-19.” The official reported that respondents (who were sought from different regions) “showed a preference to initially travel to destinations closer to home.”
ORIGINALLY scheduled to ensue last April 2 to 5, this year’s Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) was sadly (but understandably) aborted due to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a painful but necessary move to assure the safety of participants and attendees. “In light of the recent turn of events concerning COVID-19, which has led the Philippine government to declare a state of public health emergency, the management of Worldbex Services International has come to the decision to temporarily postpone MIAS 2020,” the show organizers had said in a statement.
HYUNDAI ASIA RESOURCES, Inc. (HARI) recently digitally revealed a new vehicle that will serve as the gateway into its SUV portfolio. The Hyundai Venue, a subcompact crossover, now takes its place as the most affordable ute of the brand (starting at P915,000).
THE COVENANT Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI), the official and exclusive country distributor of Chevrolet and Morris Garages (MG), recently marked its 11th and 2nd anniversaries, respectively, since taking the helm of the two auto brands in the Philippines.
IT SEEMS, at least for now, that the bulls are back. In its most recent report, the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) revealed that consolidated sales among member-companies totaled 24,523 units last September — growing 37% over the August total of 17,906 units. The August total had put a halt to three consecutive months of growth — declining by 12.8% from 20,542 units sold in July.
THERE’S NO REST for the wicked — and the wickedly good. After annexing the crown in their respective categories of the GR Supra GT Cup Asia Philippines e-motorsport event staged by Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) with partner Tuason Racing, Terence Lallave, Lance Padilla and Jose Luis Altoveros will now represent the Philippines in the regional finals.
I’VE ALWAYS looked forward to my yearly visit to the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) compound in Pasig City for the Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit (PEVS). This is staged by the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP), which “envisions a nation wherein the use of electric vehicles is highly promoted, encouraged and supported by its government and the society in order to develop a transportation landscape that is one with the environment ecologically and economically.”
FOR SURE, there was quite a bit of rejoicing (as well as a sigh of relief) over the three consecutive months of growth registered by the auto industry following that infamous April when member companies of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) sold a combined 133 units — an all-time low.
HONESTLY, when we were tightly in the clutches of the enhanced community quarantine during the first quarter’s waning days, did we ever think the auto industry would ever (or at least soon) see a surfeit of new vehicle models being rolled out — albeit digitally? Yet here we are. Even casual browsers of social media surely would have seen the steady march of new models across many brands.
MAXUS PHILIPPINES last week digitally launched the G50, a compact eight-seater multi-purpose vehicle (MPV).
FORD PHILIPPINES President and Managing Director PK Umashankar succinctly described the all-new Territory SUV it launched last Friday as one that “delivers on space, size, technology, and powertrain.”
DEPENDING on how you look at it, the successful lobby of medical frontliners to get critical areas under tighter quarantine control (as it turns out, modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ) is either a blessing or a curse. On my Facebook feed, I’ve seen very strong arguments for and against the measure, and there are truly valid points for both.
JAPAN-HEADQUARTERED premium car maker Lexus rallied in May and June to pace the luxury car segment in sales for the period. In an exclusive interview with “Velocity,” Lexus Manila President Raymond Rodriguez said that the lone dealership of the brand (on 8th Avenue and 34th Street in Bonifacio Global City) was able to sell 30 and 69 units in May and June, respectively.
WITH the scheduled local launch on Aug. 1 of the new Land Rover Defender — 37 years after the last all-new iteration — the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) brand continues to send a clear message about the commitment to its so-called “Destination Zero” mission. Through “autonomous, connected, electrified and shared future mobility, we are committed to a strategy of electrification across our model ranges,” stated the firm on its corporate website.
WHAT AN opportune moment indeed to talk about the automotive industry just as we celebrate the anniversary of BusinessWorld. Why, you ask? Well, this should be a day of rejoicing or, perhaps more appropriately, flashing a defiant, stiff upper lip, in the middle of what is perceived to be a print medium under siege. Thirty-three years on, the paper is still here, and we’re soldiering on amid the naysayers and a tough time for basically everyone.
IF THERE’S anything I’ve learned over the last few months of interviewing auto executives and dealer principals, it’s that the renaissance of the industry is more of a group project. The business of selling cars doesn’t only hinge on making digital showrooms available, or equipping salespeople with gadgets and the resources to reach out to prospects in this new normal, or even the rollout of enticing promos.
THERE WAS a time when the SUV was a segment ultra-premium brands dared not touch with their velvet-gloved hands. Maybe it felt too much like getting their hands dirty with utilitarian ethos. After all, it’s called a utility vehicle, for crying out loud.
FORD PHILIPPINES AVP for Communications Edward Joseph “EJ” Francisco recalls to “Velocity” how the brand’s full-size pickup F-150 had passed a “test of temperature 22 years ago” when it was first made available here. Surely, it sated the market need for a hefty and powerful people/cargo mover. Just as there was a healthy following for its equally large sibling in the Expedition, the F-150 resonated in car buyers who wanted a burly, capable (and well-appointed) hauler. It was in many ways a statement vehicle.
I BEG your indulgence as I start off this week’s column expressing a deep sense of gratitude to everyone who made last Wednesday’s inaugural staging of the “Mobility in the New Normal” webinar series of our sister publication The Philippine STAR’s “Wheels” section a success. As I turn over this piece on a Friday, our webinar had tallied more than 232,000 views on the STAR’s FB page alone — breaking records and certainly surpassing our expectations. Kudos to the team behind this endeavor for the hard work, the faith, and the encouragement.
FISH OUT that crystal ball from wherever you stashed it and give it a once-over. We’re going to need it to look at the (near) future of the local auto industry. But I digress. Ball-gazing is so passé; any self-respecting person of science and logic already has so many tools at his/her disposal.
THE MUCH-ABUSED term “new normal” covers all manner of adjustments and changes to our previous lifestyle that now seems so distant. Far from being a catchy, well, catchall, “new normal” is also used to describe protocols that are, quite simply, unprecedented for any generation living through these strange times.
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.
NISSAN MOTOR CO. LTD. is looking to rein in costs and mitigate the business effects of COVID-19 by taking a long hard look at its operations. Part of its vision may entail Nissan vehicles rolling out of a Mitsubishi production line here.
NOT TO BE overly dramatic about it but, last Thursday, I was part of what can only be called the advent of a new age in the local automotive industry. While “virtual launches” are nothing new, previous versions of these involved vehicles being set up somewhere and a live audience of whatever size. The virtual element only came into play for people in other parts of the world “tuning in” to the goings on.
IF YOU’VE been paying close attention to the recent deluge of auto news online, beyond the heartening work that many brands are doing amid the quarantine -- this clichéd “new normal” that’s anything but -- you would have noticed that a number of marques are bracing to open shop as soon as the government gives the thumbs-up. It has indeed happened in a number of areas now under the less severe, so-called “general community quarantine (GCQ).”
AS THE enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has been extended to May 15, many of us doubtless continue to get progressively antsy, anxious, and basically worried for what’s ahead. Make no mistake about it: The nefarious coronavirus is out there, and it’s waiting to pounce on the careless and those mistaking its invisibility for absence. Even if thousands of people have recovered around the world, the immutable truth is that COVID-19 kills, and neither the dreaded SARS nor H1N1 holds a candle to its transmission rate. That damned virus loves to strike us down.
AT THIS POINT, the title is more of a fervent wish than fact -- but we’re keeping it anyway. Besides, I know that many of you share the prayer. People have already chorused that 2020 should be a write-off. It’s too untenable a year; too memorable for the wrong reasons. Heck, we barely even made it out of the first quarter alive -- crawling on all fours into April after a gauntlet of crises rendered us slack-jawed in disbelief. And just when we thought we had endured and passed the worst of it, the invisible monster that is COVID-19 caught us with a haymaker.
There’s a surreal but almost palpable shroud that has covered the country -- nay, the world -- as I type out my inaugural column for this section. I had wanted this debut to coincide with the very special edition of Velocity you have in hand -- an issue marking and celebrating a year since BusinessWorld’s motoring section had a reboot and renaming.
IT WAS touch and go, but the threat of COVID-19’s further spread in the metropolis finally ended the hope of the planned formal launch of the Mitsubishi Xpander Cross last week. In a letter sent out to the media, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) said it “decided to cancel the scheduled Xpander Cross mall display in Glorietta 2, Activity Center. This decision is made to prioritize the health and safety of the public, our employees and dealer partners. MMPC is one with the effort of the Philippine government to contain the spreading of the virus.”
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.