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Q3 Motoring Roundup

MANILA, Philippines — With the challenge of the new vehicle excise tax hanging in the air, carmakers have been very busy laying down the groundwork for 2018 by launching all-new vehicles, opening or groundbreaking new dealerships, and even coming up with all sorts of events in a bid to keep their momentum going. Wrapping up the third quarter of this calendar year, the automotive industry has certainly been busy and this is a wrap up of the most important events from July to September.

July

Baguio getaway with the new Honda City, Jazz and Mobilio

From the confines of Manila’s busy streets to the tight roads of Baguio City, the three newest offerings of Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI)—the 2018 City, Jazz, and Mobilio passed their first road trip test with flying colors. Everyone finally got to see the new exterior and interior updates packed in each vehicle up close. HCPI’s newly appointed president and GM Noriyuki Takakura led the Honda team in the drive.

Kazunori at Mazda Makati

Mazda Makati came up with a unique concept to draw a crowd to its sprawling dealership. Completed and inaugurated in 2016, Mazda Makati is unique in that its showroom is, quite literally, above the rest. Owned and operated by Auto Zoom Zoom, Inc., the main area of the “SKYLOUNGE” (Mazda’s term for their showroom’s brand retail identity) is located on the second floor. On the ground floor though is Kazunori, one of Manila’s best Japanese restaurants. Owned and managed by Elbert Cuenca, the seasoned restaurateur behind Mendokoro and Yushoken (and of course, Elbert’s Steak Room), Kazunori is unique in two ways. First, it’s three restaurants in one: a brightly-lit café in front, an intimate omakase room in the middle, and a cozy izakaya at the back. And second, there’s always a Mazda in full view either as you enter the restaurant (the main entrance of the showroom also serves as the restaurant’s entrance) or dine at the seating area.

Foton Camarines Sur

After groundbreaking five dealerships in April and recently launching the Gratour dealerships to the market, Foton continues its dealership expansion in the Philippines with the opening of Foton Camarines Sur. Located along the stretch of Maharlika Highway, San Jose, Pili in Camarines Sur, Foton CamSur is run by the Automarken Group, the same automotive group handling Foton Gratour Legazpi, Albay.

Isuzu new parts warehouse

To support customer satisfaction with a bigger inventory for their vehicles, Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) has inaugurated its latest warehouse located in Taguig City. In partnership with DB Schenker (Schenker Distribution Solutions Inc), IPC opened the DB Schenker Levi Mariano Warehouse as start of a strategic partnership between the two industry leaders.

Audi Q2

Audi Philippines launched the newest member of the Q family with the first-ever Q2. Built as a premium urban crossover, it fuses Audi’s progressive design with great driving dynamics and high levels of functionality. The Q2 is the smallest crossover from the Ingolstadt-based automaker. However, it manages to look every bit an Audi will all of the design trademarks intact, including the large Singleframe Grille and LED headlights with dynamic turn signals. Further accentuating the Q2 as a fun-loving vehicle, the roof is made to merge with the C-pillar with color-offset blades making it even more attractive.

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BMW 5 Series

The “Ultimate Sports-Business Machine” arrives in the Philippines. Often regarded as the “right-sized BMW,” the 2017 5 Series (G30) takes on a characterful approach to its design while inside, everything has been upped to give it a truly sensory delight. Using BMW’s EfficientLightweight technology, the 5 Series is up to 100 kgs. lighter than before and thanks to its 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo diesel engine, it rockets to 100 km/h in just 7.5 seconds. Three models are on offer: the 520d Luxury, 520d M Sport, and 530d Luxury.

Mitsubishi Delivers Outlander PHEV and i-MiEV to DENR

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) delivers five Outlander PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) and five i-MiEV electric vehicles to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), along with four electric vehicle quick-charger units. Representatives from the Philippine government and guests attended the delivery ceremony held at the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City. The vehicles will be utilized by the DENR and other government agencies for business use.

Ford PH appoints new Managing Director

Ford Motor Company announced the appointment of Bertrand Lessard as managing director of Ford Philippines. Lessard will replace Lance Mosley, who is repatriating to the US after six years in the Asia-Pacific region. In his new role, Lessard will be responsible for continuing to drive Ford’s momentum in the Philippines, which included the company’s all-time best quarterly sales performance reported earlier this month. Prior to this assignment, Lessard served as general sales director of Ford France, where he oversaw an initiative to improve relations with the nationwide dealer network though enhanced process efficiencies and communications.

2018 Chevrolet Trax now available

After trickling in at select dealerships as early as a few months ago, Chevy’s global sub-compact crossover, the Trax, is now available across the entire Chevy dealership network. The new Chevrolet Trax builds on the high-quality performance of its predecessor, with a focus on improving customer appeal through refinement, exceptional fit and finish and the use of premium materials throughout the vehicle’s interior.

Mazda and AAP strengthen partnership through MSDP

Bermaz Auto Philippines, the exclusive distributor of Mazda vehicles and parts in the country, together with the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP), the country’s biggest and oldest automobile club, renew their partnership for the AAP’s Motor Sports Development Program with the formal handover of five brand-new Mazda2 S SKYACTIV hatchbacks for exclusive use in the training of future racing talents. Held in conjunction with the MSDP Module 1 training workshop, Mazda Philippines president and CEO Steven Tan reiterated Mazda’s commitment not only in discovering new racing talent but also in doing its share in educating the youth on the proper way to drive.

August

Suzuki opens Valenzuela satellite dealership

Suzuki Philippines (SPH) inaugurates its newest dealership in the city of Valenzuela. Situated in a major economic and industrial center characterized by a rising number of industries, Suzuki Auto SM Valenzuela Satellite aims to give existing and potential customers greater access to the company’s lineup of innovative vehicles. This should likewise increase efficiency in addressing the needs of customers in the area.

Mitsubishi reveals next-generation MPV, the Xpander

Mitsubishi has finally revealed the name of their next-generation MPV. Dubbed “Xpander,” this new next-generation 7-seater is specifically made, in Mitsubishi’s words, “xpand” Mitsubishi’s market presence through “xpanded” design, “xpanded comfort,” “xpanded e-convenience” and “xpanded performance.” The all-new Mitsubishi Xpander will be produced at Mitsubishi’s assembly plant located in Bekasi City, West Java, Indonesia. Slated to make its local debut by early 2018, it’s powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. The front-wheel drive Xpander features a unibody construction that provides high levels of comfort and driving stability. Yet, the generous 205-mm of ground clearance allow for an extra layer of confidence in traversing unpaved roads or going through floods.

Mitsubishi switches to local production for Mirage

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) has begun mass production of the Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback model in its Santa Rosa plant. MMPC has previously imported the Mirage hatchback from Thailand. But following a P4.3-billion investment by MMPC in its production facilities, the company is now able to produce the Mirage locally.

Mercedes-Benz unveils GLA-Class

Characterized by its sporty design and light-footed handling, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class has been well-received by the buying public. Four years after its global debut, Mercedes-Benz is giving it a makeover which aims to bring a breath of fresh air to the premium compact SUV market. It’s characterized by a stronger SUV look with its new headlights, reshaped bumpers, and varied alloy wheel designs. Also updated for 2017 is the adoption of LED headlights. Inside, the GLA-Class offers enhanced levels of craftsmanship thanks to new materials. Changes include new silver chrome trim on the storage compartment in the center console as well as on the climate nozzle rings. Locally, Mercedes-Benz Philippines is offering two variants of the GLA-Class: the GLA 180 Urban has a turbocharged 1.6-liter mill with 122hp and 200Nm of torque.

Foton Marilao, Bulacan

Foton is on a roll. Exactly a month after inaugurating its showroom in Camarines Sur, Foton continued its aggressive network expansion as it officially opened Foton Marilao. Led by United Asia Automotive Group Inc. (UAAGI), the exclusive distributor of FOTON vehicles in the country, Foton Marilao is operated by Frontier Automotive Marilao Corp. (FAM-C). The 2,800sqm facility located along MacArthur Highway houses the dealership’s vehicle showroom, parts and service center, and stockyard. It also houses a total of 10 service bays — five for Foton’s passenger vehicles and five for Tornado light-duty trucks.

Foton pays tribute to teachers

From new vehicle offerings and dealership expansions to uplifting Philippine sports and collaborating in numerous corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, Foton Philippines has been taking the lead in these endeavors. Annually, the PLDT-Smart Foundation holds the Gabay Guro Teacher Fest — a tribute to the men and women who serve as teachers to the different schools across the country. The gathering serves as a “relaxing day” for these modern-day heroes including live entertainment and raffle prizes. And since 2015, Foton Philippines has been donating one of their vehicle offerings, the Gratour Minivan as the grand prize at the Gabay Guro Teacher Fest raffle draw.

MG3

Morris Garages Philippines just launched an updated version of their sub-compact hatchback, the MG3. Packed with more convenience features, it is aimed at a wide range of customers. More than anything, it offers distinctive British style at an affordable price. Characterized by its “Brit Duo Styling,” it has a contrasting roof color and side skirts. The changes for 2017 are completed by 16-inch alloy wheels (195/55R16) at each corner and a standard power moonroof. For 2017, the MG3 comes in a single variant and it’s powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This Euro-4 compliant engine pushes out a respectable 106hp at 6,000 rpm and 137Nm of torque at 4,750 rpm.

Chevrolet Cebu opens service center in Cebu

Since its opening last February 2012, Chevrolet Cebu, which is located in Mandaue City and under the management of Genesis Motors Corporation, has continuously pursued its commitment to deliver quality products and services to Cebuanos. As it continues to uphold the bowtie brand’s values and promise, Chevrolet Cebu opened its new service center facility. The new Chevrolet Cebu Service Center houses 12 service bays and provides the latest innovations in after-sales and customer service for Chevrolet owners in the Queen City of the South. Clients are guaranteed that highly trained GM-level certified technicians attend to the maintenance and service needs of their vehicles.

Nissan Marilao, Bulacan

Nissan expands its presence in the province of Bulacan with the recent opening of its second dealership in Marilao. The new showroom features Nissan’s new retail visual design: NREDI, applied in all new Nissan showrooms, and its latest end-to-end customer service programs, designed to make car ownership better and more exciting. Nissan Marilao comes equipped with more convenient after-sales services such as the Nissan Express Service, which ensures a complete periodic maintenance service within 30 minutes; and Nissan Executive Car Checkup, which features a comprehensive, bumper to bumper assessment of any Nissan car.

Game-changing all-new Honda CR-V

Seven seats. Diesel engine. These are the two key words that describe the perfect SUV for Filipino families; words that now amply describe the all-new 2018 Honda CR-V. As Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI)’s first-ever diesel offering, the fifth-generation CR-V arrives to potentially steal the thunder (and sales) away from lumbering ladder-on-frame SUVs with its exceptional driving performance, all-around riding comfort, bold and sophisticated styling, and premium and upscale interior. All seven-seater variants of the 2018 CR-V are powered by a 1.6-liter DOHC i-DTEC turbo diesel engine developed under Earth Dreams technology. Honda also retained the services of its 2.0-liter SOHC i-VTEC engine exclusively for the sole five-seater variant.

Kia Picanto

Columbian Autocar Corporation (CAC), the exclusive distributor of Kia vehicles in the Philippines has launched the all-new Picanto. Now on its third-generation, the 2018 Picanto brings with it a more youthful and energetic appearance, high-quality and high-tech cabin, and assertive yet frugal performance. Designed by Kia’s design centers in Namyang, Korea and Frankfurt, Germany, the Picanto is a bold and fun-looking super mini. Inside, the Picanto has successfully created a thoroughly modern and refined cabin. Mated to a five-speed manual is the 1.0-liter MPI engine. Providing the entry point to the Picanto family, it produces 67hp at 5,500 rpm and 96Nm of torque at 3,570 rpm. The other engine is the 1.25-liter MPI engine. Mated solely to a four-speed automatic, this four-cylinder Euro 4 compliant engine produces a peak power of 84hp at 6,000 rpm and 122Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm.

HARI awards environmental heroes

The search is over for the 2017 ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes. They came from across the region, each one separated from the other by thousands of miles of land and seas. But a singular purpose binds them all—that of conserving the region’s imperiled web of life. The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes, a program designed to recognize outstanding individuals who have contributed significantly to biodiversity conservation and advocacy in their respective countries, was one of the highlights of the observance of 50 years of ASEAN in this year’s host country, the Philippines. The 10 heroes, representing each of the 10 ASEAN member states, were cited for their extraordinary success in biodiversity conservation in their respective countries. They are Eyad Samhan (Brunei Darussalam), Sophea Chhin (Cambodia), Alex Waisimon (Indonesia), Nitsavanh Louangkhot Pravongviengkham (Laos), Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia), Dr. Maung Maung Kyi (Myanmar), Dr. Angel Alcala (Philippines), Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin (Singapore), Dr. Nonn Panitvong (Thailand), and Prof. Dang Huy Huynh (Vietnam).

September

MINI opens in Alabang

British United Automobiles (BUAI), the exclusive distributor of MINI vehicles in the country, remains bullish for its Philippine market as they formally opened their new pop-up store located in Alabang. Located at the Molito Complex along Commerce Avenue in Madrigal Business Park, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, the 216-sqm MINI Alabang Pop-up Store showcases three vehicles (rotated every two months) and a full range of the latest MINI accessories and lifestyle products for existing customers and prospects coming from south of Manila. Though purely a sales office, the pop up score also serves to gauge customer demand which may lead to a full-blown showroom in the near future.

Foton continues CSR with Alagang Kapatid Foundation

United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. (UAAGI), the official distributor of Foton vehicles in the Philippines, continued its CSR by donating a customized responder truck to Alagang Kapatid Foundation, Inc. (AKFI), the social development of TV5. Affiliated to one of the country’s leading commercial media networks headed by Manny V. Pangilinan, AKFI’s mission is to provide responsible, people-oriented, and environment-friendly response to indigent and disaster-affected communities. AKFI needed a vehicle that could assist their team during their charity works in various locations in the country.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan pulled the curtains off the all-new, second-generation Leaf. And just as its predecessor changed the perception of market viability for EVs (it has sold over 300,000 units globally making it the best-selling EV), the new Leaf aims to embody Nissan’s future. With the race to build and market fully autonomous cars in full steam, Nissan has stepped up by providing Level 2 autonomy in the 2018 Leaf. Through ProPILOT technology, the Leaf significantly reduces driving stress on the highway in both heavy and flowing traffic. It achieves single-lane autonomous driving technology. Nissan has listened to customer feedback and is now offering improved range, power, and torque in the 2018 Leaf as well.

Nissan X-Trail

Nissan Philippines has just revealed the first local vehicle to benefit from their strategic Nissan Intelligent Mobility: the refreshed 2018 X-Trail. The 2018 X-Trail brings with it new technologies that offer a more confident and connected driving experience. The 2018 X-Trail boasts of the widest range of Nissan Intelligent Mobility features that reduce the stress of the daily commute while minimizing the risk of unsafe driving conditions. Matching the new technologies is the X-Trail’s refreshed styling with a more aggressive fascia and a more premium interior. Mechanically, the 2018 X-Trail retains the same engines and transmission.

Subaru XV

So, after a four-month wait, Motor Image Pilipinas, the exclusive distributor of Subaru in the Philippines, has finally pulled the curtains off the 2018 Subaru XV. The compact crossover-cum-hatchback has been a brisk seller for the brand since its launch way back in 2012. In fact, market share-wise, it’s been neck-and-neck with its larger sibling, the Forester. Coming in two variants, the 2.0i and 2.0i-S, the Subaru XV promises better handling and ride thanks to being underpinned by the new Subaru Global Platform. It also has more interior and convenience features. Pricing though has remained exactly the same as the outgoing model.

Subaru Palm Challenge 2017 winners

Philippines, meet your Subaru Palm Challenge 2017 country representatives. After a day under the searing sun on Sept. 9, the toughest of the tough will represent the country at the Subaru Palm Challenge Regional Finals in Singapore. After almost 11 hours of holding on to the vehicles without letting go of their right palm latched onto the cars, the final 10 finalists came through. Alex Neblasca, perennial Philippine winner and last year’s runner up in the Regional Palm Challenge finals in Singapore, is once again part of the Philippines’ Top 10, but surprisingly just came in third this time around. The multi-titled Neblasca was outlasted by Rheden Pinoliad, a factory worker, and new Philippine champion Juntie Torres, who serves as a security guard for his day job. They were joined by Donn Michael Yap, Mark Joseph Trinos, Carlo Talahib, Sr., Juan Furiscal Jr., Reggie Purugganan, Lyza Joyce Montejo and Jaspher Ivy Galaura.

EMotors, The Net Group provide zero-emissions shuttle in BGC

The official APEC green, electric mobility partner and leading electric vehicle maker EMotors, Inc. (EMI) partners with The Net Group (TNG) in its latest initiative to tackle pollution and lower our carbon footprint while creating jobs and livelihood that encourages women drivers. The partnership with EMotors makes TNG the first company located at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) to utilize sustainable, pure electric vehicles to serve the transport needs of its own staff, officers, and tenants starting with their two buildings, Net Park and Net Lima.

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