Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Motor Image and Subaru Lays Out Philippine Plans
Jakarta, Indonesia—Motor Image Pilipinas has taken the local market by storm since it opened its first showroom in 2006. Through their efforts, they have single-handedly raised Subaru as one of the most sought after and prestigious car brands in the country. Six years on, there are no signs of slowing down as Motor Image Pilipinas announced future plans at the recently concluded Indonesia International Motor Show (IIMS) in Jakarta.
CKD Assembly of Subaru XV
The Subaru XV is the country’s hottest-selling compact crossover because of its blend of dynamic style and excellent fuel economy. It also represents the biggest investment for Motor Image parent company Tan Chong International Limited (TCIL) as it opens a US$ 10-million plant CKD assembly plant for the Subaru XV in Malaysia. This is the first time a CKD plant has been opened since 1999 apart those operated by Subaru and parent company Fuji Heavy Industries.
With global demand for the XV at a fever pitch, the Subaru assembly plant in Gunma, Japan is already at full capacity. This new CKD assembly plant aims to reduce the waiting list for the XV, particularly in the right-hand drive markets. Left-hand drive units, particularly for the Philippine market, will remain sourced from Japan.
Around 30 to 40 percent of components are sourced in Malaysia, in order to comply with AFTA regulations, while sensitive components such as engine and drivetrain are still built and sourced from Japan. According to Motor Image Executive Director Mr. Glenn Tan, the CKD assembly plant can match the quality of XV units made in Japan and has met the standards set by Fuji Heavy Industries in just 18 months, as compared to the industry average of 24 months. In addition, it is a sign that his company is willing to invest to grow and expand the Subaru brand in the region. In fact, he remains very bullish about Subaru, indicating that they are targeting to double regional sales annually.
A short spin in the Malaysian-built Subaru XV reveals no discernible difference compared to a Japanese-built unit. In a special track comprised of both smooth tarmac and loose gravel, the CKD XV shows remarkable solidity and impeccable build quality—two characteristics that are hallmarks of the Subaru brand. It feels and drives just like a regular XV, which is what Motor Image is after.
When quizzed about future assembly plans aside from the right-hand drive XV, such as the possibility of producing left-hand drive units for the Philippines, Mr. Tan says it remains to be seen.
“It depends if it’s a boom of bust for this assembly plant,” he said. “But as early as now, we are studying the potential of assembling more Subaru models.”
Subaru BRZ Set to Arrive by October
The rumors and speculations can be finally laid to rest as Motor Image Pilipinas has also confirmed the availability of the BRZ sports coupe as early as October. Hot on the heels of the Impreza launch, the BRZ marks yet another new addition to the Subaru line-up. Motor Image Pilipinas General Manager Mr. Michael Luyun said that initial inventory is already on its way, and they should begin serving the 50 or so individuals who placed reservations on the BRZ.
Built as a collaboration between Subaru and Toyota, the BRZ is a pure-bred sports car with a 2.0-liter boxer 4-cylinder engine featuring direct-injection technology. All in all, it generates 200 horsepower and a 0-100 km/h time of less than seven seconds. Together with a light-weight body (not more than 1,275 kilograms) and a perfect weight distribution, the BRZ first the first two-door coupe for Subaru in almost 16 years, the last one being the Subaru Alcyone SVX.
Although the final pricing and specifications are yet to be revealed, Mr. Luyun has quashed any rumors that it will be priced for more than P 2-million. However, he does admit that it will be priced higher than its sister car, the Toyota 86, but will feature more luxury amenities and a longer list of standard features. It will be sold locally in both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic guise. Reports indicate that the Subaru BRZ will be priced at P 1,928,000 for both manual and automatic variants.
Would-be buyers will be happy to know that the Subaru presents a different driving experience compared to its Toyota sibling. After taking the BRZ around a slalom track reveals a more precise, sportier car. The steering feels snappier with a quicker feel, while the ride is most definitely firmer with much more emphasis on on-road dynamism. In fact, the BRZ emphasizes more grip rather than the tail happy nature of the Toyota 86. Plus, the BRZ sits 10 mm lower than the Toyota (ground clearance of 120 mm) thanks to Subaru-specific suspension tuning and components. Aside from the sportier demeanor, the BRZ’s unique exhaust tuning emphasizes the throaty Boxer rumble more. And inside, the BRZ benefits from electro-luminescent gauges and aluminum-like trim pieces.
Motor Image Pilipinas is currently accepting reservations for the all-new BRZ, and its arrival marks the second all-new model range (the first being the XV) to join Motor Image Pilipinas’s mainstay models which include the Impreza, WRX STI, Forester, Legacy, Outback, and Tribeca. Undoubtedly, it’s a show of force that Motor Image Pilipinas remains optimistic about growing the brand in the country, and in doing so provides the best that Subaru has to offer.
Tan Chong International Acquires Rights to Sell Changan Vehicles in the Philippines
In what is undoubtedly the biggest surprise during the IIMS is Motor Image parent company Tan Chong International’s revelation that they have acquired the rights to market, distribute, and sell Changan vehicles in several countries in the ASEAN region, including the Philippines. They are taking over the exclusive distributorship from current holders, Focus Ventures, Inc. starting 2013.
A government-owned company in China, Changan is one of China’s top carmakers with 15 manufacturing facilities as well as design and R&D facilities in Turin, Italy; Yokohama, Japan; Nottingham, U.K.; and Detroit, U.S.A. It has its roots in the gun making industry, and is up to now, one of the biggest weapons manufacturers for the Chinese military. They currently have joint-venture partnerships with Ford, Mazda, PSA Peugeot Citroen, and Suzuki in China. Thanks to Changan’s vast pool of international talent, they are the first to manufacture high-quality Chinese vehicles which can compete readily with the Koreans and Japanese makes.
Currently being sold as “Chana” in the Philippines, Tan Chong International decided to rename it back to Changan is to align it closer to its international name. Likewise, the company’s move into marketing and selling Changan cars in the Philippines marks the first time a huge international conglomerate is backing-up the marketing and sale of Chinese cars in the country.
Mr. Tan is very optimistic about Changan in the Philippines. He has personally driven several of their cars on a recent trip in China, and says that he believes that they are at par with the best that the rest of the world has to offer. In addition, by applying the knowledge gained through marketing and selling not just the Subaru brand (the company also markets and sells Nissan in other countries) he thinks he can successfully market and grow a Chinese brand car in the country.
“I’ve seen and driven the Changan cars, and they’re pretty-well made. It’s certainly better than other Chinese brands, and perhaps up there with some Japanese brands,” Mr. Tan remarked.
As a start, Mr. Tan has revealed that they taking a different approach from the one taken by the current distributor. For instance, they are focusing more on selling passenger cars as opposed to mini and light-commercial vehicles. Although the line-up remains to be finalized, Changan will most likely sell a small crossover, a compact sedan, and a seven-seater MPV as part of its line-up. They will also be the first Chinese brand in the country to offer the convenience of an automatic transmission in their line-up.
Changan vehicles will be sold through a new company, and will have a separate front-end from Motor Image and Subaru. However, Mr. Tan hopes to tap into existing and potential dealerships to sell and service Changan vehicles. Mr. Tan says the company is targeting to enter the Philippine market with their first showroom in mid-2013 in the Manila Bay area.