motoring

A paradigm shift whose time has come: The 2020 Corolla Altis HEV self-charging automobile

March 30, 2020

In our not so distant past, the free falling prices of gasoline and diesel products brought by nil demand worldwide would have encouraged motorists to travel more. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has constrained all kinds of travel, including land transport. The sudden drop in demand has also brought to fore just how significant the effects of fossil fueled vehicles are in the air quality of the world’s leading metropolitan cities which are now enjoying clear blue skies and fresh air after so long a time. This brings us to the rising popularity of electric vehicles especially in urban areas. At zero emissions and negligible noise, they appear to be the personal vehicle of choice even in a post-COVID-19 word. But the present profile of the power industry in the Philippines precludes the efficient and economical operation of all electrical vehicles (EVs). This doesn’t have so much to do with the EVs per se but rather with the “generation mix” of how electricity in the country is now produced. When the full costs of a EVs operation in the Philippines are factored over its average economic life, it is still more expensive and inefficient compared the fossil-fueled internal combustion engines (ICE). Moreover, in the Philippines where the provision of charging points is next to non-existent, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) chose to instead begin with Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) in the transition from gasoline and diesel powered ICEs to full EVs As Ritsmond A. Kalambacal, TMP Group Head for General Job Technical Training Group 1, CSO-Customer Service Training Dept., Marketing Division explained to us: “Because of the generation mix and availability of electricity in Luzon (where the bulk of the Philippine market is), TMP believes HEVs are the electric vehicles that are most suited for the Philippines at this time,” he noted.  “We are constantly working to dispel misconceptions most motorists have about HEV: one, it is complicated to drive, and that it can be switched to full gas or full EV manually.” “However, the Corolla Altis HEV drives just like a conventional ICE powered vehicle and automatically charges the car’s batteries as needed. There’s no need to plug it in the grid to recharge it.” “The Toyota Corolla Altis HEV is ready for today’s infrastructure and local power situation,” said Elvin G. Luciano, PR and Communications Section, Marketing Services Dept. “New owners will need almost zero learning curve since it’s no different from driving a conventional powered Altis.” That’s exactly how auto journalist Jacob Oliva of autodeal.com.ph relates it in his review after trying out the Corolla Altis Hybrid for a week. “ I learned one thing: it’s no different from a vehicle with an internal combustion engine – except when you start the car up, which is as silent as a teenager escaping in the middle of the night.”  Teacher Bogie Teves, who blogs at  Bogie's Wonderland and was lucky enough to test drive the 2020 Toyota Corolla Altis during the HEV Toyota Hybrid Electric Vehicle Campus Tour in Cagayan de Oro on February 21, remarked: “The car was very comfortable but what stands out the most is the super quiet engine.” Previous Prius In fact, the Prius, Toyota’s first HEV was already introduced in the Philippines as early as 2009 but never took off even when the more affordable Prius C was later offered as a more affordable option. With taxes and other custom duties making them relatively expensive, Toyota loyalists opted for the more affordable gasoline powered models which in their minds returned more bang for the buck. Not the least, there were fears the new technology  wasn’t mature enough to guarantee the affordable life cycle costs that had long been the most decisive factor in making previous and new Toyota owners opt for the brand. However, topgear.com.ph's Drei Laurel  believes the 2020 Toyota Altis HEV’s P1,580,000  price point could be a “real game changer” relative to the Prius (P2,289,000) and Prius C (P1,907,000).   Keeping it simple To partly address these apprehensions and  simplify the workings of the Altis HEV, TMP distributed a pamphlet to students who attended its Feb. 21st  lecture at a local restaurant “HEV 101 Hybrid Electric Vehicle powered by Toyota.” The material describes the HEV as “Combining one gasoline engine with two electric motors, the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive makes the vehicle powerful, fuel efficient and environment friendly.” One System. Two Worlds. “Enjoy the performance that you’re used to getting from a gasoline engine, while experiencing more kilometers per liter and generating less pollutants.” Power and Performance. Fuel efficiency and lower emissions. “One motor keeps your vehicle moving at low and moderate constant speeds, and charges the battery when you brake. Need to go faster? The other motor starts the gasoline engine to add power, and also fills up the battery. The engine turns off automatically when you come to a full stop.” One gasoline engine. Two electric motors. “The Hybrid Synergy Drive works automatically to make your driving efficient and great for your wallet and the environment. All these while still giving you the great performance you love!” A simple illustration describes in a series of line drawings how the HEV “From a full stop or at a low or medium constant speed it uses one electric motor. Uses the gasoline engine and one motor when you need more power. Back to one motor when you need less power. And charges the battery when you brake.” For the techies reading this, the Altis HEV is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder DOHC gasoline engine and an electric motor that together churns out 121hp at 5,200rpm and 142Nm of torque at 3,600rpm. First Dibs The effort seems to have paid off. As topgear.com.ph’s  Drei Laurel reported, “TMP tells us that it managed to sell 30 units of the Toyota Corolla Altis in October 2019. That figure accounts for a little over 12% of total Corolla Altis Sales. In contrast, that’s already five times the number of Prius units sold in all of 2018.” “At first glance, 12% doesn’t seem that impressive, but keep in mind that, at P1.58 million, the hybrid variant is by far the model’s most expensive option locally. The top-spec conventionally-powered Corolla Altis 1.6 V CVT, at P1.185 million, costs nearly P400,000 less. What’s more, TMP tells us it estimated the hybrid would only account for 7% of Corolla Altis monthly unit sales, so this is definitely a good start.”  The Lowdown Asked how much emissions are reduced in the HEV, Kalambacal replied: “Based on data from our regional office, the total emissions from our HEV is reduced by 34% per kilometer compared to a similar ICE powered vehicle.” He also dispelled apprehensions about the provincial “casas” capability to service the  HEV, explaining how local service centers are ready to maintain the “new” tech cars, with their mechanics being trained at TMP. Toyota also uses nickel-hydride batteries over the newer lithium ion batteries since the former are recyclable and have a mature technology compared to the latter. “If a HEV is not used often, the battery deteriorates. However, if the car is used responsibly, its batteries will last the entire life of the vehicle without need of replacement,” Luciano stressed. For Toyota hybrid vehicles beginning with model year 2020, the hybrid (HV) battery is covered for 5 years from original date of first use or 200,000 kms, whichever comes first. Coverage is subject to the terms and conditions of your New Vehicle Limited Warranty. Mileage Since I was unable to test drive the car itself due to other pressing concerns, I turned to existing reviews online to find out more about its mileage. In an article posted last October, autoindustriya.com’s Vince Pornelos reported consuming only 3.28 liters on a trip from Manila to Tagaytay.  In a later article, the same author reported the Altis HEV used only 0.622 of a liter on his 17.8 kilometer route from his home to the office in fairly heavy to moderate traffic at an average speed of 18 km/h. “That's not even two thirds of one liter because of a very high 28.5 kilometers per liter fuel economy figure with the A/C set for comfortable levels, yet still it only used up about 30 pesos worth of gasoline.”  In his previously mentioned review, Oliva  reported 14.2 km/L. after an hour on northbound EDSA starting around 4PM, while a leisurely drive on a Sunday clocked in 26.2 km/L on an average speed of 60 km/h. “The best fuel economy number I got with the Corolla Hybrid was 29.7 km/L – that’s after an hour on the highway with the cruise control set at 90 km/h.” “Of note, these numbers are better than our initial Corolla Altis Hybrid fuel efficiency testing, which was done with five people on board.” Put all these in the context of the current pandemic with gasoline prices in the Philippines dropping by P3.90/L from the start of 2020 before dropping by a further P4.25/L on March 17, and the Toyota Corolla Altis HEV looks more and more like a car whose time has come.

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Brisk and Bold - The All-New Suzuki S-Presso

March 23, 2020

The S-PRESSO’s exterior design is a sight to behold. Its bold and athletic profile, combines with its tall and powerful stance ensuring it commands all the attention wherever it goes. The car’s strong character lines and prominent exterior features such as the muscular front grille, striking front and rear bumpers, distinct headlamp and rear lamp design add to its robust appearance. Make a bold statement as you zip around corners and on lanes. The S-Presso’s side body volume has been pushed upwards to give high visual center of gravity. The boxy wheel arches enhance its stance and sporty side while the strong character line adds the car’s bold persona.      The moment you step inside the S-Presso, your eyes instantly fall on the unique center console housing a trendy digital speedometer. Artistically crafted with bold and vibrant design elements, it’s from where all the energy originates, spreading into the interior of the car. The central position of the meter cluster also gives you a new, heightened driving experience. Get in and experience the invigorating ambience of the S-Presso. The exceptional experience of the S-Presso is a combination of its driving performance and convenience. With a peppy engine and other innovative features, you’re in for an exciting drive. So sit back, and gear up for an energetic drive that’s equally relaxing.       S-Presso’s compact 1-liter engine is the perfect foil for the go-getter in you. After all, it delivers a peppy performance to go along with your active lifestyle. Plus, it delivers enhanced fuel efficiency, allowing you to go that extra mile. With a 5-speed manual transmission, the S-Presso makes driving on any road a pleasant experience. Its transmission offers an optimal gear ratio, and reduces friction for the engine and drivetrain, enabling it to obtain the best possible fuel consumption and performance.      Muffler noise, road noise and floor vibration are minimized through optimizing body characteristics. Not only are the noises reduced by use of enhanced insulation materials on the car body through a series of intricate improvements to optimize airflow, the ideal balance of design and aerodynamic performance is realized.      The S-Presso lets nothing hinder you from reaching what you set out for. And it does this by keeping you protected on every road you take. With a host of exceptional safety features, the S-Presso takes care of you while you enjoy the drive. The S-Presso comes with front SRS airbags as standard for the safety of the driver and front-seat passenger in case of a frontal collision. The pre-tensioner is designed to tighten the seatbelts to restrain occupants quickly and to prevent them from being thrown forward in case of a moderate or severe frontal crash. Force limiter helps protect occupants from seatbelt inflicted injuries.       Innovation lies in the heart of the S-Presso. It is built with Suzuki’s new generation platform – HEARTECT. Light and highly rigid, it lowers fuel consumption and vastly improves the fundamental vehicle performance in terms of running, turning and stopping. Its frame is characterized by smooth and continuous curves, which efficiently disperses impact energy in case of collision. The body-design of S-Presso centers on Suzuki’s TECT concept, which helps protect the cabin in the event of a collision by efficiently absorbing and dispersing energy. It also widely employs high tensile steel to achieve both lightness and excellent safety performance. In emergency braking or on slippery surfaces, the anti-lock brake system (ABS) keeps tires from locking, and enhances the driver’s ability to avoid obstacles through steering.      The S-Presso comes fitted with ultrasonic sensors in the rear bumper. This means you can get rid of your parking woes, because it helps detect obstacles while you park the car. Warning sounds keep you aware of the distance to the obstacle, making parking a simple task. A minimum turning radius of 4.5m provide excellent maneuverability even on narrow roads.      The All New S-Presso is priced at a SRP of Php518,000.00 and is available in a new colorway, Sizzle Orange. You may also enjoy the S-Presso in Fire Red, Metallic Granite Gray, and Metallic Silky Silver.

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Grand Cars Inc. launches Geely brand in Cagayan de Oro

February 13, 2020

Geely is set to get the show on the road in Mindanao following Grand Cars Incorporated’s launching of Geely Cagayan de Oro on February 10, 2020. Grand Cars Inc. is one of the partner dealers of Sojitz G Auto Philippines (SGAP). Present in the brand launch were the SGAP and Grand Cars officials and Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno. During the event, 3 Coolray variants, which were eventually released to its new owners, were showcased – Sport, Premium, and Comfort.   “The formal launch of the Coolray is the preview of bigger things to come. And the step in the right direction in presenting our strong commitment in serving customers as well as strengthening our bonds with Sojitz.”, Grand Cars Inc. President Jan Andrew Po said.   SGAP President Mikihisa Takayama warmly welcomed Grand Cars to the Geely family and underscored the importance of their partnership. “Our alliance is a vital component as Geely drives its way to make it big in the Philippine automotive market. In this regard, I would like to thank you for trusting Sojitz G Auto Philippines Corporation to be your partner in this endeavor.”, Takayama said.   “Geely is poised to be one of the major automotive players in the Philippines following the future introduction of its global models which benefits from synergies from auto brands it acquired such as Volvo.  We are confident that these future Geely global vehicles are far better in terms of specification, equipment, technology, value for money — and not short changing the buyer.”, Takayama added.   Northern Mindanao, where Cagayan de Oro is situated, is one of the leading regions in Mindanao. According to Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno, “land travel is the name of the game in Mindanao especially now that the government is on a Build, Build, Build strategy. Opening up new highways, new doors, opportunities in Mindanao…this is a good investment decision. Your (Geely’s) entry here in Cagayan de Oro is quite strategic…thank you for your confidence in Mindanao.”   This 2020, Geely starts to expand its nationwide dealership network. 15 outlets are already slated to be built this year, to include Geely Cagayan de Oro. With the rise of Geely in Cagayan de Oro, SGAP expressed its confidence that with Grand Cars’ decades-long proven credibility as one of the top-performing dealership networks in the country, their partnership can build a strong brand reputation and a business that is here to stay.

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Suzuki Philippines boosts strong performance in 2 quarters; introduces New Vitara 

November 4, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Consistent with its strong performance for the first two quarters of the year, pioneer compact car distributor Suzuki Philippines (SPH) finishes the third quarter with positive growth yet again, enabling the company to post 19 percent sales growth for the first nine months of the year over the same period in 2018. The continued sales increase is the result of the brand’s strategic marketing efforts, which emphasize numerous promotions and interactive events and are aimed at boosting product visibility. SPH hopes to ride on this strong market and brand momentum to further strengthen its position in the market through the remaining months of 2019. “Suzuki’s current standing in the Philippine automotive industry is a significant milestone for the brand. After securing the 4th spot in the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) ranking – the highest rank in the brand’s history – and climbing to the 5th spot in the local automotive industry roster last quarter, we at Suzuki Philippines can definitely say that 2019 has been a monumental year for the brand,” shared SPH Director and General Manager for Automobile Division Keiichi Suzuki. “These back-to-back achievements further fuel our drive to deliver on the brand’s promise of quality driving experience with every Suzuki vehicle,” he added. Top sales drivers: Ertiga, Swift, Celerio The Ertiga, Swift and Celerio continue to excite and stimulate the market as Suzuki’s best-selling vehicles. The three award-winning models combined accounted for 56 percent of total sales from January to September this year. The well-loved family vehicle Ertiga still dominates the Suzuki auto sales chart with a 34 percent share. This 7-seater vehicle fortified its position as the top-favorite Suzuki vehicle with the release of the Ertiga Black interior version, which drove sales up even further. Aside from its fuel efficiency and spacious interior that complement the body’s elegance and modern style, the Ertiga demonstrates good engine performance that is powerful and cost-efficient, making it an ideal vehicle for practical Filipino families. Swift kept its position as the second top-selling Suzuki model with an 11.4 percent share of total sales. This hatchback remains the millennials’ top choice among Suzuki vehicles. With its sleek and stylish design that is very recognizable on the road, millennials can definitely identify with this fun and compact Suzuki hatchback. Accounting for 11 percent share of sales, the Celerio ranks third among Suzuki’s top-selling vehicles. This hatchback, known for its space and roomy dimension, can accommodate up to 254-liters worth of cargo with an uncompromised 5-seater capacity. Alongside its remarkable fuel efficiency that ups the ante for its category.  SPH debuts New Vitara to Philippine driving arena Another vehicle from Suzuki Philippines that stunned the market this year and won the 2019-2020 Auto Focus Media’s Choice Awards’ Compact SUV of the Year: Best Value for Money award is the Suzuki Vitara. Committed to continue its legacy and stand firm to its promise to provide value-packed and affordable products to more Filipinos, Suzuki proudly debuts the improved and upgraded New Vitara. This CBU Unit from Magyar Suzuki Corporation (MSC HUNGARY) is available in GL+, 6 speed Automatic Transmission and GLX, 6 speed Automatic Transmission variants.  Suzuki has made several improvements and upgrades in both the exterior and interior of the New Vitara. It is now equipped with newly designed grills, lower bumpers and new rear combination lamps, all of which create an expressive exterior. The new stylish suede front and rear seats, cluster meter and premium-feel cabin create a comfortable yet stylish interior vibe. “The New Vitara will surely appeal to car enthusiasts looking for an improved version of the classic Suzuki vehicle. It is our pleasure to bring another modified Suzuki vehicle to the Philippines. The New Vitara will certainly deliver an exceptional driving experience to Filipinos – the Suzuki way,” shared Keiichi Suzuki.For more information about Suzuki Philippines and its automobiles, please visit www.suzuki.com.ph and like them on www.facebook.com/SuzukiAutoPH.     About Suzuki Philippines Incorporated Suzuki Philippine Incorporated is a wholly-owned Japanese multinational firm highly recognized in the automotive industry. The company specializes in the manufacture and sale of motorcycles and distribution of compact vehicles and outboard motors. Suzuki has established its reputation worldwide for quality, versatility and innovation, and has created a heritage of trust and reliability. www.suzuki.com.ph

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Taiwan Excellence Returns at Taiwan Expo 2019

October 23, 2019

With Technology and Smart City Concept  The Taiwan Excellence Pavilion is creating a major buzz during the Taiwan Expo 2019, held in Davao for the first time, as visitors are treated to some sterling products and hi-tech gadgets. The overwhelming response received during the first edition of the Expo urged the participation of Taiwan Excellence this year as well. The two-day expo on the 8th and 9th of November will showcase products from more than 15 brands in the field of AI Robot, Unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAV), and smart city solutions.  Taiwan Excellence is the highest mark of distinction bestowed upon the best of Taiwanese innovations since 1993 and has honored many innovators over the past 27 years. The aim of the award is to encourage continual innovation in product quality, design and image; and winners of the coveted title are selected on multiple strict criteria including their R&D, design, product quality, and marketing model. In recent years, Taiwan Excellence has made itself known in the Philippines through various activities such as Taiwan Excellence 3x3 Hoop Challenge, exhibitions in shopping malls and leading trade shows. These hands-on interactions are a hit with Filipinos and have helped to extend the reach to businesses and consumers. Taiwanese technology has always been well regarded internationally and Taipei City was even ranked by Business Insider as Asia’s most high-tech city for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018. Taiwan’s solid R&D, excellent design track record and production capabilities are instrumental in its success and Taiwan Excellence recognizes the best of the best. During the two-day event, the Taiwan Excellence pavilion will prove to be a major highlight as it showcases a range of tech products that define the innovation of Taiwan. Coming to Taiwan Excellence Pavilion, visitors will have a chance to individually interact with a series of breakthrough technologies, which span across various categories, including information and communication technology (ICT), home appliances, leisure & health care and smart building solutions. These state-to-the-art technologies are invented to bring a more convenient life and satisfy Philippine consumers. Sharing Smart City Solutions In conjunction with the exiting products on display, the Taiwan Excellence Pavilion organized a smart city seminar, Transform Cities with Technological Solutions from Taiwan, to share Taiwanese experience in this area with Philippine counterparts. Davao has become a well-developed tourist destination in the Philippines and one of the most booming tourist destinations that tourist want to visit. Besides, the government is gearing up to improve its competitiveness in tourism by investing more and more resources for tourism-related service and facilities. During Taiwan Excellence smart city seminar, there will be companies, such as GEOSAT Aerospace & Technology providing smart agriculture solutions with Unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAV) and Cal-Comp Technology offering AI smart robots for SM Group and 7-Eleven in the Philippines, to share their technological solutions for the smart city. We anticipate to provide different ideas for city planning or city transformation and give people better living or touristic experience by innovative technology and eco-friendly solution from Taiwan.   About Taiwan Excellence The symbol of Taiwan Excellence honors Taiwan’s most innovative products that provide tremendous value to users worldwide. All products carrying this symbol have been selected for specific Taiwan Excellence Awards based on their excellence in design, quality, marketing, Taiwanese R&D and manufacturing. Initiated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), R.O.C. in 1992, the symbol of Taiwan Excellence is recognized by 100 countries. About Taiwan Excellence Mark  The Taiwan Excellence logo is inspired by the pursue of “perfection” and the six interwoven arcs represent the close ties Taiwan has with the global economic system and the interconnectivity of today’s industries while the red color represents the vitality of Taiwanese companies. The six arcs are independent on their own but yet come together to form a strong collective image to represent the way Taiwanese industries complement each other to form a whole. The Taiwan Excellence logo has been registered in 102 countries to date.

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IPC Signs MOA with JZGMSAT

October 14, 2019

Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) and the Jacobo Z. Gonzales Memorial School of Arts and Trade (JZGMSAT) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) last September.      This was the second MOA signing between IPC and JZGMSAT. The first was on July 3, 2017, wherein IPC donated three mock-up/cutaway engines, and implemented its Diesel Engine Technology Training Program to JZGMSAT students enrolled in the Automotive Servicing course.      In the September 3 MOA signing, IPC turned over two Automotive Lifters, another mock-up Isuzu engine, and five computers. The addition of the Lifters are seen to help the students accomplish their NC3 Automotive Servicing accreditation. After the signing, JZGMSAT trainees performed a demonstration of their servicing skills. Alumni of the JZGMSAT Automotive Servicing course were also on hand to convey their special message during the formal signing ceremonies.      IPC President Hajime Koso remarked during his speech before students and guests at the signing ceremony that, as IPC has remained true to its mantra of being “Your Responsible Partner”, it has always prioritized efforts to contribute “to the progress of society.”      “Without a progressive society, no business will grow. IPC’s goal, then, is to help create a knowledge-sharing culture in the Philippines. That is why, we invest on knowledge. Knowledge inspires innovation. Innovation, on the other hand, is the key to a progressive, healthy economy,” Mr. Koso said.      IPC first trained 12 CALABARZON-TESDA Automotive Trainers on Diesel Engine Technology at the IPC Plant in June 2017, in preparation for the first MOA between IPC and JZGMSAT. The full implementation of the training program for the initial batch of 114 JZGMSAT students was held July 2017 to May 2018.      The training program covered topics such as: Direct and Indirect Fuel Injection; Valve trains; Carbon Dioxide Reduction Technology; Common Rail Fuel Injection, and; Engine Management System.      The new MOA will add the Isuzu PUV Modernized Jeepney Model Product Review to the training program scheduled for 2020. This includes topics on the main features and specifications of the modernized Isuzu PUVs, and a familiarization of their drivetrain and under chassis components.      Under the new MOA, IPC will also provide an opportunity to qualified JZGMSAT students for possible employment in Isuzu dealerships that need technicians. The MOA signing was witnessed by representatives of IPC, JZGMSAT, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Signing the MOA were IPC President Hajime Koso, JZGMSAT Vocational School Administrator III Benito Reyes, and TESDA Regional Director Florencio Sunico, Jr.

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