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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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
IN APRIL, Bohol fuel distributor Universal Fuel Solutions (UFS) took delivery of two Isuzu EXZ and three Isuzu FVM trucks, and three Isuzu mu-X SUVs from the Isuzu Bohol dealership, which is part of the Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) network of authorized distributors.
SEPANG, MALAYSIA -- It was a gallant stand, but the 11-member contingent from the Philippines ultimately fell short of their goal to gain podium places at the 10th Shell Eco-marathon (SEM) Asia.
THE BIENNIAL 18th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition (or simply, Auto Shanghai 2019) was a huge showcase and opportunity for automotive and related businesses to flex their muscles and trot out their best. Themed “Create a Better Life,” the spectacle was once again held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center which holds the distinction of being the world’s largest facility of its kind -- touting a floor area of almost 1.5 square million meters.
BY VIRTUE of Department Order No. 2017-11, the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) was construed in June 2017 by the Department of Transportation (DoTr) as it envisioned a “restructured, modern, well-managed and environmentally sustainable transport sector where drivers and operators have stable, sufficient and dignified livelihoods while commuters get to their destinations quickly, safely, and comfortably.”
AS WE get deeper into 2019, more distance is being put between last year and its woeful effects on the local automotive industry -- largely because of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which came in effect in the beginning of 2018. To be fair, the measure, which effectively levied additional excise taxes on new vehicles while providing fiscal relief for hybrids and exceptions for electric vehicles and pickups, had been well-communicated before the axe fell in the beginning of 2018. Car buyers largely hung on to their checkbooks last year, even as the market saw a surge of late-2017 purchases.
MITSUBISHI MOTORS Philippines Corporation (MMPC) officials are keen to point out that they have been in operation in the country for an unmatched 55 straight years, which speaks volumes of the faith they have in our economy.
THE annual summer spectacle that is the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) once again happened at its usual haunt, the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City. MIAS is known as the country’s longest-running and largest car show.
THE MANILA International Auto Show (MIAS) is a well-known summer draw and, rightfully so, becomes an effective soapbox from which car brands announce and tout their accomplishments. It is also a favorite platform for unveiling vehicles. This year’s MIAS featured a handful of attention-grabbing rides worth saving up for (or at least salivating over). We compile here a handful (in no particular order) which we thought you probably noticed as well. Do you agree?
CAN an SUV be both large and fun? This seems to be the question that German carmaker Audi sought out to answer when its designers worked on the Q8. The first-ever in its lineage, the full-size luxury crossover SUV debuted in the market last year — with a regional unveiling in October by way of the Audi Brand Experience (ABE) Singapore.