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March 2, 2012

A One-on-One with Autostrada Motore Chair & President Wellington Soong

Photos courtesy of Autostrada Motore Press
Clad in a matching black v-neck shirt and jeans, Wellington “Willie” Soong busily looked around his newest, sprawling showroom; an exciting addition to his portfolio of automotive brands. This could have been on any regular weekday, but this was on a Saturday morning. Normally, people of his stature would be on the golf course swinging a round or two of golf, but Mr. Soong was busy at work, personally supervising the completion of the Autostrada Motore showroom down to the key details such as the positioning of the furnishing and the cars itself.

Mr. Soong’s personal touch and hands-on approach has made him the perfect man to helm the Philippines’s official dealer of Ferrari and Maserati automobiles. The only new Ferrari dealership slated to open this year in the South East Asian region, the opening of the new, world-class facility located at 32nd and 4th Avenue in Bonifacio Global City brings everything into a complete circle for Mr. Soong and Autostrada Motore.

Bringing the Ferrari and Maserati brands, both illustrious makes with rich heritages to the Philippines has taken Mr. Soong more than a decade to realize. Recognizing that there is a passionate following for these Italian marks; Mr. Soong made it a point to provide a fulfillment for this passion. At the same time, he has a strong belief in the strength of the brands as well as its products.

“We are not a mainstream Japanese car company. And we don’t have aspirations to be,” says Mr. Soong. “I simply fulfill the desire of Filipinos who want to own these super premium sports car brands with a rich and legendary history in motorsports.”

This passionate approach to bringing in Ferrari and Maserati has Mr. Soong calling Autostrada Motore, “The Center of Motoring Passion.” An appropriate name given Mr. Soong himself didn’t give up bringing in these two sports cars brands for more than a decade.

Already the recognized distributor of other luxury lifestyle brands in the country, Mr. Soong was in midst of negotiations with Ferrari and Maserati when the Philippines suffered the effects of a worldwide economic slump in 2001. Because of the prevailing economic conditions at the time, Ferrari and Maserati found it appropriate to award Mr. Soong an extended dealership status with a showroom opening in 2003. Though this set-up was less than ideal, it did serve as a taste of how to become a full-blown distributor for the two Italian marks. By slowly gaining the required experience, Mr. Soong and his entire team proved to Ferrari and Maserati that the Philippines is ready for a full-blown distributorship. In 2008, Autostrada Motore was awarded “official distributorship status”.

“We used to operate as an extended representation through a regional dealership,” recalls Mr. Soong. “With this arrangement, sometimes it was difficult to provide customers with the best levels of service. Now, it’s different. We are now direct. We closely coordinate with the Italian headquarters of Ferrari in Maranello and Maserati in Modena.”

This renewed arrangement has given Autostrada Motore full support factory support. As such, potential owners now have access to the full range of Ferrari and Maserati automobiles. Though there is a limited allocation of units (Ferrari, for example, limits its global manufacturing output to no more than 7,000 units), Ferrari sports cars such as the 458 Italia and Spyder, California and FF are all available for order; while the Maserati Gran Turismo, Gran Turismo Stradale and Quattroporte may be had.

“Whatever the customer ends up getting, whether it’s a Ferrari 458 Italia or a Maserati Gran Turismo Stradale, he will not just be buying a car,” beams Mr. Soong. “He will be buying into an experience. He will be buying into a brand with a pure racing heritage. No other car make evokes the same levels of motoring passion as Ferrari and Maserati can. This sets us apart from all others.”

What’s more, because of Autostrada Motore’s official distributorship status, they now boast of factory-certified technicians with a world-class service facility. Having invested heavily in training and upgrading its facilities, Autostrada Motore now has the ability to completely service a Ferrari or Maserati vehicle without the need to fly in specialized mechanics for a hefty price.

“We have pride and commitment to represent Ferrari and Maserati, and we will provide the whole nine years for the customers,” declares Mr. Soong. “We will even service Ferrari and Maserati bought in the gray market or through parallel imports,” he added.

Global initiatives such as the Ferrari Genuine Maintenance program will be honored by Autostrada Motore. Under this program, the purchase of a brand-new Ferrari comes with free standard maintenance (such as oil change and tire rotation) for a full seven years and with unlimited mileage to boot, provided it’s bought from Autostrada Motore and serviced religiously. In addition, local activities such as the formation of a Ferrari owner’s club as well as ride and drive activities for customers are in the works. Plus, Autostrada Motore hasn’t forgotten about its Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR either. Autostrada Motore, though Ferrari is donating to two Philippine charities: Gawad Kalinga and the Cancer Resource and Wellness (Carewell) Community.

Even if you don’t have the budget for a brand-new Ferrari or Maserati, Mr. Soong assures that there’s something for every tifosi (an Italian word for fans, usually referring to those who’re ardent followers of Ferrari). Aside from an open showroom (you don’t need an invitation to enter), Autostrada Motore will be offering a full line of merchandise from both Ferrari and Maserati.

With Ferrari and Maserati finally officially entering into the Philippine market, car enthusiasts will have a lot to look forward to. These iconic brands will surely tickle the fancy and imagination for 99 percent of people, and for the lucky one percent who will get to own one, they can be assured of the perfect partner representing Ferrari and Maserati in the Philippines.

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