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Loftier luxe: Refreshed Bentley Bentayga raises bar in SUV opulence

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.

The Ford F-150 picks up where it left off

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.

Doing digital dance moves in the face of crisis

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.

4 auto industry trends in the new normal

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.

Mist calls

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.

Abracadabra, Azkarra!

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 looking to leverage Mitsubishi PHL factory for production

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.

The car launch, circa 2020

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.

How will the post-lockdown showroom look like?

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).”

Does auto industry unemployment loom in a post-ECQ economy?

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.

Car industry takes it on the chin, still standing

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.

V Questions

THIS WEEK, we conclude our multi-issue run to celebrate Velocity’s first year which we wanted to mark by providing a comprehensive snapshot of where we are in greener mobility.

Speeding toward green mobility

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.

Sporty spice: Subaru Forester GT Edition now here

FOLLOWING its unveiling at the Singapore Motor Show early this year, the fifth-generation Subaru Forester’s sportier-looking iteration now makes its way to the Philippines to take the top rung in the SUV model’s roster.

Mitsubishi Xpander Cross has more ‘SUV-like’ qualities

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.”

Maxus PHL enters pickup segment via T60

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.

Pair of aces: New BMW X1, 1 roll out

SMC ASIA Car Distributors Corporation (SMCACDC), local BMW distributor, recently brought in new versions of its entry-point vehicles in the 1 Series and X1 as part of its “Joyfest” event held at the Bonifacio Global City.

GM shutters Thailand Chevrolet plant

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.

Lexus x Grand Seiko event showcases ‘takumi’ affinity

WHAT DO Lexus and Grand Seiko (GS) have in common?

Normalizing the higher breed

TO PARAPHRASE that almost ubiquitous tee with the swoosh, Toyota knows hybrids -- even if many of us probably do not.

Dichotomous luxe in all-new Bentley Flying Spur

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.

Driving around 5 continents for better Toyotas

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 goes upsize with Transit

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.

MG to deploy 80 vehicles as SEAG mobility partner

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 unveils feature-packed all-new Q3 SUV

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.”

Kia gets in subcompact SUV ring via Seltos

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.

Peugeot 5008 gets upgrades, keeps old price

DESPITE getting a slew of upgrades, the 2020 version of the Peugeot 5008 seven-seater SUV will still be priced at P2.19 million.

Toyota champions compassionate mobility

AMERICAN WRITER and novelist Pearl Buck once wrote: “Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.”

The bier essentials of Oktoberfest

MANY FILIPINOS know, or at least have heard about, Oktoberfest.

New BMW X1: A kidney punch in the segment

BMW’s entry point into its so-called sports activity vehicle (the Munich-based car maker’s appellation for SUV) line is getting a significant refresh at the perceived mid-point of its generational life cycle.

Triumph bikes, Shelby added to Autohub range

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.

New Michelin replacement tire touts affordability, durability

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.

Maxus G10 Assist provides elderly, PWD convenience

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.

Hidalgo resurfaces after 100 years, up for auction

HERE COMES a rare chance to acquire a creation by one of the country’s 19th-century masters.

Tracking Toyota’s ‘pure sports car’Kicking into Supra mode

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.

Auto Nation Group rolls out all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE

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.”

A ‘presidential’ SUV with presence and status

ITS PULSE-QUICKENING price tag of P9.29 million helps assure exclusivity, and that’s justifiable for a vehicle that’s nicknamed “The President.”

Luxe for the MPV class

BY ITS MONIKER alone, the multi-purpose vehicle or MPV segment lends itself more to practicality rather than luxury.

EVs making full charge

IT’S CLEARLY boiling down to a question of when, not if.

Supra natural sports car

THE FIRST-EVER SUPRA to be retailed in the Philippines is here -- taking its place as the flagship sports car of Toyota.

Refreshed BR-V bulks up on features

NUMEROUS CHANGES mark the mid-cycle refresh of Honda’s compact crossover, the BR-V. Formally launched last week, the updated vehicle was conceptualized by its designers with an “enhanced SUV image” touting a “masculine and premium look with its sleeker design and advanced features.”

BMW 7 Series plug-in EV to make PHL debut in July...

ON THE SIDELINES of the recent launch of the all-new versions of BMW’s Z4 and 3 Series, this writer had an exclusive interview with BMW Group Asia Managing Director Christopher Wehner. The executive had mentioned in a speech that the Munich-headquartered car maker was poised to systematically launch a total of 25 electrified vehicles by Year 2025.

Toyota: More tax relief for hybrids needed in PH

THE COUNTRY’S leading auto marque recently made a clarion call for the environment by pushing for greater adoption of, and enhanced government support for, its hybrid electric vehicle nameplate.

CVs drive Hyundai Q1 sales growth

HYUNDAI Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI), the official distributor of Hyundai passenger cars and commercial vehicles (CVs) in the Philippines, reported a 12.5% sales uptick in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year. HARI moved 9,949 units in the period compared to 8,847 in the first quarter of 2018.

Toyota unveils new Avanza

PUERTO PRINCESA, PALAWAN -- Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) unveiled last Thursday the refreshed version of its popular multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), the Avanza. The new iteration banners a sportier look, reworked dashboard with a new infotainment system, and more safety features.