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Opinion

HMPH: Hands-on management in Philippines

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

While most of the competition were busy restarting their sales campaign and recovering from the economic disruption caused by COVID related lockdowns, Hyundai Motors, the Korean automotive brand, was silently evaluating their performance and investments in the Philippines. That silence actually was even a cause of concern among some Philippine Motoring journalists, who worried that the brand might be pulling out or may have been seriously affected by supply chain issues or product development gaps. On the contrary, it turns out that Hyundai was busy making radical changes in their participation and partnerships in the Philippines. The result is the recent launch of HMPH or Hyundai Motors Philippines.

HMPH, as I suggested in today’s title, may stand for “Hands-on Management in the Philippines” for Hyundai. While their previous partnership immensely established the brand presence in the country, the global challenges in the automotive industry as well as strengthening the “Korean” identity as a superior brand versus Japanese and Chinese cars are concerns that must be addressed by Hyundai Motors directly. As such, the brand and management of Hyundai Motors in the Philippines will now fall squarely on the shoulders of its new president, Mr. Lee Dong Wook, who will be backed by a team of experienced Korean and Filipino automotive executives. Aside from the hands-on policy of Hyundai management, another radical announcement was that Hyundai is now “in the process of moving from the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors Inc. to join the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc.

Aside from all this corporate action, HMPH took time to introduce its latest models last Wednesday when HMPH hosted a combined corporate and product launch introducing new and refreshed vehicle models that were selected to compete with recently launched products of competitors from Japan, China and the US.

The all-new Creta and all-new Staria are at the forefront of Hyundai’s fresh offerings for the Philippine market. The all-new Creta is a premium B-segment SUV that is based on Hyundai’s new ‘Sensuous Sportiness’ design language. It has a strong, bold and an elegant design, which is now the hallmark of a flagship SUV. Equipped with a 1.5-liter Smartstream engine and paired with an improved CVT transmission, these new technologies promise a smoother and fuel-efficient ride without compromising power output.

For those looking for VIP comfort, the all-new Staria features a bold and futuristic exterior design featuring a “Lounge” concept with its lower beltline and taller vehicle height, giving it a sense of openness. It provides passengers the freedom of space and the ability to comfortably position themselves to their liking.

The 7-seater premium variant comes with exclusive design elements, smart sliding doors, smart power tailgate, dual sunroofs and loads of active safety features. The 11-seater commuter variant and a 3-seater cargo variant has twin swinging doors, both of which are perfect for those in need of reliable haulers for their businesses.

Hyundai’s most recognizable marques, the Tucson and Santa Fe, also got cosmetic and performance updates. the long wheelbase gives passengers extra legroom for a more comfortable ride. Under the hood, the Tucson now has a shift-by-wire automatic transmission that, when paired with its great engine, delivers a fun driving experience.

The new Santa Fe exudes a premium look inside and out, thanks to design cues and features that cater to even the most fastidious car afficionados. The new Santa Fe uses a new modular Gen 3 platform for optimized driving performance. It is also equipped with the Smartstream 2.2 diesel engine mated to 8-speed wet DCT, a first in Hyundai’s SUVs.

What’s next for Hyundai?

Major plans are in the works for HMPH to shake up the market and steer consumers’ attention to the brand. A key component of this drive is a nationwide service campaign and warranty program that aims to highlight the brand’s improved after sales. To better reach more customers, the company will be expanding its dealer network from 38 to 45 by 2023.

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The DTI or Department of Trade and Industry recently approved price increases for certain consumer goods such as canned meat products, etc. But what caught my attention was bottled water. No one gives much thought to the product, but it is often asked by foreign visitors and foreign friends online why Filipinos have to spend so much money on “bottled water.” Even the two local water utilities have said time and again that their water is safe to drink. So why do we spend millions of pesos annually?

The usual answer is that people don’t trust the water quality in their area, others are afraid of possible contaminants that might be in the system due to leaks, breaks or people stealing water and causing contamination. Others simply follow the herd mentality “better to be safe than sorry.” Others say that P40 for 15 gallons is not a big deal. Manila Water and Maynilad and MWSS need to launch an awareness campaign on this.

When you focus on single use 500-ml to 1-liter bottles that sell for so much more and is one of the biggest causes of plastic pollution in our canals, rivers and oceans, the combined value is excessive. One liter of bottled water I am told is still more expensive than gasoline or diesel, some say even of beer. Friends from the utilities tell me that in many cases the bottled water we buy and drink at stores and restaurants probably all comes from tap water or MWSS water, filtered and bottle and sold as “fresh and new.”

Filipinos could be saving so much money if companies, restaurants and food outlets were simply mandated to install “in house” water filters instead of selling bottled water and generating plastic garbage. Lifting 15-gallon bottles is not helping my back and carrying a water bottle is a small sacrifice to reduce plastic pollution while saving money that after a year is a lot.

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