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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.
AMERICAN CAR brand General Motors (GM) has announced it will cease local manufacturing and subsequently withdraw the Chevrolet brand from Thailand “by the end of the year.” The news, primarily distressing to some 1,900 people employed by the automaker (with some 1,200 involved in the Rayong manufacturing plant alone) also has ramifications for the Philippine market. More on that later.
WHAT DO Lexus and Grand Seiko (GS) have in common?
SINGAPORE -- Larger yet lighter, sporty yet luxurious, powerful yet fuel-efficient. The dichotomies come, well, fast and furious in the third generation of Bentley Flying Spur. First launched globally in June this year, the four-door Bentley is now poised to gradually roll out to the Asia-Pacific market as the UK car maker formalized its entry into the region with a launch in this city.
MUCH IS SAID about car companies drawing insight and learning from stints on the racetrack -- primarily through motorsports -- and cascading these onto production vehicles made for you and me. After all, it’s sexy, exciting, and always poster-ready.
FORD PHILIPPINES is bringing in the marque’s large people mover, the Transit, amid what the company Managing Director PK Umashankar described as “the continued growth of the light commercial bus and van segment… a (sector) that contributes about eight percent of the industry in the Philippine auto market.” The US-headquartered auto firm is seeking to elbow into the niche in the waning days of 2019, which as a whole is projected to move 33,000 units, according to Mr. Umashankar in a speech at the vehicle’s recent launch.
AS THE WHOLE country braces for the official start of the 30th edition of the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) and the 10th ASEAN Para Games, Morris Garages (or MG) inked an agreement with the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) and Mediapro Asia to become the official mobility partner of the biennial regional sports spectacle.
AUDI PHILIPPINES last week locally debuted the all-new iteration of the Q3, the Ingolstadt, Germany-based automaker’s compact luxury crossover. First released in 2011, the Q3 is considered an “all-around SUV that (now) marks a step forward with its spaciousness, versatility, and technology.”
FOLLOWING its world premiere in July, Korean global car maker Kia lost no time in making the subcompact crossover Seltos available to customers in the Philippines -- who also have the honor of getting it first in the ASEAN region. And the vehicle comes in with rightfully much optimism from executives.
THE PERFORMANCE brand founded by the late great American automotive designer, racer, and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby; and the iconic British motorcycle maker Triumph -- are seemingly disparate entities that now have something in common. They both have found a Philippine partner in the Autohub Group.
ALREADY AMONG the leaders in the mass-market tire segment for eight consecutive years, French tiremaker Michelin goes after a bigger portion of the tire-replacement business with an affordable yet high-performing line designed for small to medium-sized vehicles.
INGRESS and egress of the elderly and persons with disabilities (PWD) in the Maxus G10 multipurpose vehicle is now made easy with the G10 Assist package.
HERE COMES a rare chance to acquire a creation by one of the country’s 19th-century masters.
THE DECISION to pull the trigger on releasing the all-new GR Supra locally surely makes a lot of sense for Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) from both emotional and business standpoints.
MERCEDES-BENZ Philippines fancies the GLE a “trendsetter” in its portfolio of SUVs, and the latest iteration surely adds to this lore as it is packed with “a suite of intuitive safety systems (and) the most advanced technology.”