Toyota’s Thanksgiving Party cum All-New Altis launch

MOTORING TODAY - Rey Gamboa - The Philippine Star

Following tradition that they have established several years back, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) once again invited members of the Philippine motoring media to a Thanksgiving Party to express their appreciation for its well-done work of informing the public about the developments in the local automobile industry and of Toyota’s major role in its progress.

As in all previous Thanksgiving Parties thrown by TMP, an array of fabulous prizes were given out to their guests after engaging in simple but exciting contests. Expectedly all the “who’s who” in the Philippine motoring media was there. Only those who are out of the country or are under the weather miss these yearly get-togethers. As always the party was marked by flowing food and unlimited drinks, especially of the single-malt whiskey kind as specified by Lexus-Manila’s well-respected president, Mr. Danny “Sir John” Isla with widely-read Business-Mirror motoring and nationally-syndicated sports columnist Mr. Al “Sir Paul” Mendoza gulping con gusto.

TMP’s “rocker of a president”, Mr. Michinobu Sugata, after obliging the media with rocking renditions of two poplar rock and roll standards stayed all through the night, rarely done by expat automobile company chief executives, but has been a trademark of Sugata-san, even during test drive sorties out-of-town. The practice has always lead to some sort of a “Mexican standoff”—we wouldn’t leave while our host president was still in the house and the host refuses to leave while his important guests were still around. The Thanksgiving Party’s protracted “standoff” went on till about 2 o’clock in the morning with James Deakin blinking first. After all we both needed to be in an early morning test drive to Baguio the next day. No wonder Sugata-san has just been given an extension to play more golf in the Philippines as TMP president—not only for his continuing efforts to maintain Toyota’s much-coveted consecutive “triple crown”  (top in passenger cars, commercial vehicles and overall sales) in the local auto industry, perhaps also for always being a gracious host to the media.   

Earlier in the evening, TMP also took the opportunity to unveil in the gathering exclusive to motoring journalists, the All-New Corolla Altis, reputedly the world’s best-selling automobile with record sales of 40 million worldwide. It’s now on its 11th generation after making its debut in 1966.

The All New Altis still comes in the same 4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC with Dual VVT-I engine, which is vaunted to achieve fuel economy, high engine output, and decreased fuel emissions. Furthermore, TMP affirms that excellent acceleration performance has been ensured from low to high speeds with its NEW 7-speed CVT (Continuously Variable Transaxle) Technology.

As it was unveiled that evening at the EDSA Shangri-La, we were apprised that the All-New Altis comes in seven (7) refined colors: Super White, Silver Metallic, Gray Metallic, Attitude Black, Red and Dark Brown. A White Pearl color option is also available for an additional P15, 000.00.

It was also announced during the launch that the Toyota’s new offering is now available in four (4) variants: the 1.6E (P836,000.00), 1.6G (P935,000.00), 1.6V (P999,000.00) and 2.0V (P1,201,000.00)


More VW models in the country

The local automotive industry is indeed on a soar, what with new models being introduced one after another since the clock struck 12 midnight to usher in 2014.

Now here come two new models from Automobile Central Enterprise, Inc. (ACEI), the country’s exclusive importers and distributors of Volkswagen—the Polo Notch and the Jetta both with diesel engines.

“Volkswagen has always been known as the People’s Car, and now with the introduction of the Polo Notch, the possibilities of owning a fine German car with the latest in technological advancements become more attainable for the Filipino,” said JP Orbeta, president of ACEI. 

The Polo Notch has been known as a celebrated benchmark for Volkswagen, having sold more than 10.6 million globally. It is a 5-speed sub-compact with manual transmission and a 4-cylinder, 1.6 liter common rail TDI (Turbo Direct Injection) engine with a registered horsepower of 105Ps @ 4400 rpm and 250Nm of torque @ 1500-2500 rpm and surprisingly priced at only P950,000.00.

On the other hand, the very friendly and approachable ACEI president had these to say for the high-end compact, “The Jetta successfully combines in a compact sedan at an affordable cost, without having to compromise quality, innovation and fuel efficiency.”

The Jetta also has a 4-cylinder common rail TDI but with a bigger 2.0 liter engine with more horses, 110Ps @ 2750 – 4200 rpm and 280 Nm torque @ 1750 – 2750 rpm and priced at P1,295,000.00.    

The two models were presented in another of VW’s Media Roundtable events, this one held at the Monochrome Center in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

After a detailed product orientation and a brief Q&A with the motoring journalists present presided by ACEI marketing director, Arnel Doria, a hands-on experience with the Polo Notch and the Jetta was afforded the motoring media in a test rive course designed within the Ayala Development project. 

It’s just the beginning of the year and more VW models appear in the horizon with the much-awaited iconic VW Beatle in the forefront.


AVID upbeat with 10.6 percent growth last year

Sales of imported vehicles grew by more than ten percent last year as reported by AVID or the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors. Total registered sales in 2013 of 31,399 units, reflecting a 10.6% growth versus the 28,400 units sold in 2012 has been considered no less than impressive.

AVID reports that the Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) segment provided the major sales lift with total sales of 15,256 units, up by an awesome 25.9% from previous year’s level of 12,116 units. According to the report, Subaru’s Forester and Chevrolet’s Trailblazer models’ headed the segment’s strong showing due to its appealing product features, competitive price points and better financing packages. For the month of December, LCV sales hit a remarkable climb of a whooping 45.7% growth for the year-on-year from 2012.

The report also showed that Hyundai’s Eon model boosted the year-on-year growth of Passenger Car (PC) sales for the month of December, leading to the annual take-up of 16,143 units.

“As the economy’s growth continues to be on a positive track, AVID remains bullish about the prospects for the industry this year with our commitment to provide innovative product and service offerings that respond to the needs and preferences of the Filipino consumers” according to AVID president and HARI president and COO, Ms. Fe Perez-Agudo.

AVID shares the projection that growth prospects for the Philippine economy and automotive industry in 2014 remain positive on the back of strong macro-fundamentals, accelerated post-Yolanda construction spending, sustained remittance flow and BPO revenues.


It’s not going to be long

Final touches are being made and before long we’ll finally launch the “all-video” website of the TV show, Auto Focus.

A mirror of its TV counterpart, the website would contain pages and pages of automobile features of current-year models as well as fully accessorized and customized car show entries.

For those who want a more educated choice of vehicles to purchase, we’ll have “head-to-head”, a feature-to-feature comparison of automobile models belonging to the same category and price range.   

We’ll also have videos of highlights of industry events like vehicle launches, out-of-town test-drives, press cons, etc.

It’s a pioneering “all-video” motoring website, the first hereabouts.

Don’t miss its opening.

Happy Motoring!!!

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