Welcome a stronger Nissan

MOTORING TODAY - Rey Gamboa - The Philippine Star

Although it was late last year yet when Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Japan) formalized and officially announced that Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI) shall take the lead in managing the Nissan automotive brand in the Philippines, it was only last Friday, March 7 when it finally made its presence felt with a formal public introduction coupled with a dual launch of its first two new model offerings; the Nissan Sylphy and the Nissan Altima at the Blue Leaf Filipinas.

It was announced during the event that the new entity has a corporate structure made up of 51 percent equity of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd (Japan), 24.5 percent of Nissan Motor Philippines, Inc. (NMPI) and 24.5 percent of Universal Motors Corporation (UMC). With the new structure, NMPI and UMC shall continue assembling Nissan vehicles for the domestic market. 

As some of you would know, previous arrangements had UMC distributing Nissan commercial vehicles while NMPI took care of passenger cars. For many years Nissan Motor Co., Ltd (Japan) did not have a direct hand in managing the brand in the country, which may have caused the decades-old weakening of the Nissan brand as evidenced by its so-so sales performance despite being a very strong number two in Japan and the 4th biggest-selling automotive company in the world.   

During the whole-day event, which had the motoring media for luncheon and the invited public in the evening festivities, it was announced that this year, “NPI sets its sights on a bigger market share with its fundamental role of strengthening the branding, marketing and sales strategies and likewise its dealer operations. NPI also intends to reinforce brand and sales power by broadening the product lineup and intensifying sales and services across the nation.”

The newly formed Nissan Philippines, Inc. is headed by its president and managing director, Kenji Naito. His impressive record shows that he has 29 years experience with Nissan and has held key positions in various markets including Japan, South Africa, New Zealand and Thailand. Prior to his post in the Philippines, Naito-san served as CEO of Nissan Korea Co., Ltd in Seoul, Korea.

The introduction of the new Nissan Sylphy and new Nissan Altima, which coincides with the formal introduction of the new Philippine company signals the beginning of more Nissan products to arrive in the local market.

The Sylphy is the new global sedan that is sold in more than 120 markets worldwide including the USA, Japan, China and Thailand. It’s powered by a 1.8L (131ps/174Nm) and 1.6L (116ps/154Nm) engines (inline 4 cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves) which are both matched with new generation Nissan Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) although the 1.6L also comes in Manual Transmission.   

The price of the Sylphy ranges from P812,000 to P998,000 and it comes in five colors.

Meantime, making a market comeback after more than 20 years is the Altima, the midsize executive 4-door sedan, which is built in the USA. It has the same measurement as its predecessor and comes here in two variants—Altima SV, which has a 2,500cc twin-cam, 16 valve 4 cylinder engine that churns out 180ps and 243Nm that is priced at P1,650,000.00 and the Altima 3.5L, which has a 3,500cc, V6, 24-valve engine with 270ps and 340Nm with an SRP of P2,030,000.

Obviously viewed by Nissan Moto Co., Ltd (Japan) as a momentous event, it had no less than its executive vice president, Takao Katagiri and much more its vice chairman Toshiyuki Shiga as special guests who flew-in from Japan purposely to be present.

Welcome, Nissan Philippines, Inc.


Kia’s drive to the hoops

It has been three decades since an automobile company made tracks in the cage of the pro league—Japanese automaker Toyota was a team to beat sharing the limelight with perennial opponent Crispa in their legendary rivalry in the 80s. 

And now come the Koreans…“Kia and Columbian Autocar Corporation (CAC) have always been steadfast in its commitment to the promotion and development of various sports initiatives in the Philippines and all over the world. We believe that sports is a potent tool to reach our market while also contributing to nation-building,” was part of the statement released by CAC president, Ms. Ginia R. Domingo in confirming that the country’s exclusive importers and distributors of Kia vehicles are indeed looking at the possibility of joining the PBA. “A formal letter of intent was sent by CAC to the PBA Board of Governors and we are waiting for the PBA to reply,” added the alluring CAC lady president.

Kia has been visibly supportive of international sports events, from tennis, as major sponsor of the Australian Open to basketball through the NBA and the sponsorship of major international soccer tournaments. In the Philippines, Kia has actively supported the growth of football through its sponsorship of the Philippine Azkals, the national men’s football team as well as the development of the sport through the Kia Cup, its annual football festival.

The entry of Kia into the PBA would undoubtedly enhance further our local players’ exposure to international brand of play if the Korean automaker would explore the possibility of using imports from Korea. Needless to say Kia’s presence would have the country’s Korean community trooping to PBA venues, an undeniable additional boost to the pro league’s gates and patronage.  

Indeed Kia’s entry into the PBA would be an enhancement to the country’s pro league.


A few more weeks’ wait

The online version of Auto Focus, your weekly news and features TV magazine exclusively dedicated to the automobile and its industry shall finally go into cyberspace in a few more weeks.

A little more fine-tuning and we hope to have a glitch-free airing of the country’s first all-video motoring website by the end of April.

Watch for it.


A long drive with the Ford EcoSport

My apologies to all those who follow my column for failing to publish one last week. A long, almost 300-km weekend test drive with the all-new Ford EcoSport south of Bangkok got so exciting that I failed to appropriate time to write any article.

I’ll give you a full account of this international media drive in next week’s column.

Happy Motoring!!!

For comments email motoringtoday-star@stv.com.ph /sunshine.television@yahoo,com.

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