This year has meant many things for practically every living human on earth. Well, mostly bad things. Inarguably, the biggest—and possibly worst—impact has come from the tiniest of pests. The Covid-19 pandemic will go down in history as among the most disruptive and destructive humanity has faced.
But there is a bright side. Technology and innovation have turned garbage into gold, total loss into a measure of victory, physical confinement into virtual omnipresence. This year has locked us all down into the four walls of our homes, but communications and digital technologies have enabled us to travel virtually anywhere with just a tap of our fingers.
The automotive industry has made the most of this intensified drive to digitalization. It’s not just a whim; economic survivability depends on it. Automotive experts have pointed out that consumer expectations and radically changing needs can only be met if players continue to be connected with the motoring public. “The focus today is on connected vehicles. Automobile manufacturers are moving beyond automation to a more advanced form of digitized factory, which can produce millions of lines of code for each connected automobile,” stated Industry Today in its feature on the digital transformation in the automotive industry.
In the Philippine automotive landscape, digitalization has been moving at a truly blinding pace. Here are 35 instances that prove we’re motoring in a world of USBs.
1) MIAS Wired. The country’s biggest auto show—the Manila International Auto Show to be held from Dec. 16 to 20—will see the elevation to the virtual scene literally into another dimension. Just visit www.manilaautoshow.com to register for free. MIAS Wired will bring some of its trade show counterparts’ highlight events to a more accessible and dynamic channel as it launches an interactive platform where brands and enthusiasts can experience the same excitement the traditional MIAS delivers. Follow MIAS on Facebook and Instagram @ManilaInternationalAutoShow.
2) Ayala’s 6-in-1 site. Ayala Corp has gone warp speed. AC Motors, the automotive and motorcycle distribution and retail group of Ayala subsidiary AC Industrials, has harnessed the power and potential of technology and digital revolution to create an online store for all of its six brands – Honda, Isuzu, Volkswagen, KTM, Kia, and Maxus with the ACMotors.com.ph website.
3) Toyota Virtual Showroom. Launched by Toyota Motor Philippines in June, the virtual showroom has interactive 360 degree views, both inside and out, enabling the buyer to view the car from every angle.
4) Chevrolet’s ShopClickDrive.com.ph. The Covenant Car Company Inc makes sure that its aftersales services include remote, online vehicle consultation via video conference, live chat functions, and interaction through mobile apps for easy PMS scheduling.
5) BuyAnMG.com. MG Philippines’ online selling platform BuyAnMG.com has, among others, 360-degree walkthroughs of each MG model. Live video chats can be conducted with sales consultants to discuss any product details, promo offers, and services.
6) Nissan’s 1st virtual showroom. The automaker’s first in the Asia and Oceania region, Nissan Philippines thus enhances its digital strategy, giving customers immersive online access to the current Nissan line-up.
7) Virtual@Honda. Honda Cars Philippines Inc announced late August its first-ever online dealership facility for sales and after-sales services, accessible via HCPI’s official website www.hondaphil.com.
8) Chery Arrizo EV virtual launch. Also this August, Chery Philippines held a virtual launch of its first electric vehicle (EV) offer Chery Arrizo 5e Electric Vehicle, the EV version of its conventional Arrizo 5 compact sedan. The Arrizo 5e, with an estimated range of 400 km, made its debut in China over two years ago.
9) Toyota dominates virtual launches. Consistency is key, and market leader TMP just made sure it’s the king of both worlds. Toyota’s online launches included a refreshed Wigo (June 15), the Hiace Cargo (July 17), a face-lifted Vios (July 25), the new Corolla Cross (Aug. 20), and the new Hilux in September.
10) E-Head at Fortuner launch. Former Eraserhead frontman Ely Buendia jammed online at the Toyota Fortuner launch Oct. 17, garnering over 750,000 viewers.
11) Changan digital launch. Changan Motor Philippines Inc (CMPI) presented five of its vehicles during the Nov. 11 virtual media launch: The Alsvin Subcompact sedan, the Subcompact SUV CS35 Plus, the Compact SUV CS75 Plus, the 7-seater mid-size SUV CS95, and the Eado EV460 full-EV. And as in the flesh, CMPI president and CEO Fe Perez Agudo was assertive and confident during the Q&A session.
12) A pair from Lexus. Lexus Philippines unveiled the all-new edition of its popular IS model at the Lexus Manila showroom in November: The IS 300h and IS F-Sport models. Lexus also virtually launched the new LC 500 Convertible last May.
13) Maserati’s first hybrid revealed. Maserati’s global digital reveal of its first-ever hybrid vehicle, the Ghibli Hybrid on July 16, left Pinoy fans hanging, as actual units wouldn’t be available here until the latter half of 2021.
14) Suzuki dealership opening. The online grand opening of Suzuki Auto Marikina, a member of the ANC+ Group of Companies, makes the brand more accessible to residents of Marikina City and neighboring communities.
15) Two from Suzuki. Although canceling the live launches of the XL7 and the S-Presso, Suzuki Philippines disseminated information about its new models virtually, while offering discounts for buyers who reserved their units from March 1 to 18.
16) Safe Trips launched. The Safe Trips campaign of the Department of Tourism, in collaboration with Nissan Philippines, was held virtually Nov. 5. The contract signing between Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat and Nissan Philippines president and managing director Atsushi Najima was done virtually.
17) Ford launches online. Ford Philippines digitally launched the new Everest Sport May 21, the all-new Territory compact crossover Aug. 14, and in June, two variants of the all-new Ford F150.
18) Virtual EV summit. On its 10th anniversary, the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (eVAP) held the Philippine Electric Vehicle Virtual Summit (PEVVS) Sept. 24 to 26 focusing on EV adoption and the challenges and opportunities brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic on both the supply and demand side.
19) Honda online launches. HCPI launched the Honda CR-V crossover and City sedan—both their 5thgeneration—on Oct. 22.
20) Geely launches online. Sojitz G Auto Philippines introduced the Geely Okavango 7-seat SUV on Nov 19. Last May 30, it also launched the Azkarra.
21) Hari virtual awards. Hyundai Asia Resources Inc crowned San Juan Group’s Hyundai Commonwealth Avenue as its 2019 Dealer of the Year in Passenger Car (PC) at the first virtual Hari Dealer of the Year Awards (Doya). Meanwhile, Hyundai CARES (Customer Assistance and Response) went online at Facebook Messenger.
22) Stonic launched. Kia Philippines held the virtual launch of its Kia Stonic crossover Oct. 15. In the Sept. 25 media preview, Kia Philippines president Manny Aligada said the Stonic aims for more than just the looks and the Kia brand heritage.
23) Foton launches Gratour. Last August, Foton Philippines launched its all-new diesel-powered 2.2-liter Euro4-compliant Gratour TM300. The vehicle could be configured into various body designs ideal for a wide array of mobility requirements, including moving heavy cargo as well as passengers, delivering items bought online and even a rolling store or food truck.
24) Land Rover’s launch series. Land Rover Philippines launched the 2021 Land Rover Defender Aug 11. In July, it introduced the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV).
25) Mercedes-Benz launches. Last Aug. 15, Mercedes-Benz’s official distributor Auto Nation Group held a virtual premier of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB, a compact luxury SUV. Last March, it launched the all-new GLS full-size luxury SUV.
26) Ferrari online. Motostrada Inc, Ferrari’s official Philippine importer and distributor, launched the Ferrari F8 Tributo online Aug 17. On Oct. 12, it also held online supercar premieres of the Ferrari 812 GTS and the F8 Spider, two of the Italian marque’s most powerful convertibles.
27) BMWs galore. SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp, the country’s official importer and distributor of BMW vehicles, launched three new cars online last May: Updates of the 5 Series, X3, and a limited-edition Z4. In June, it announced the arrival of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, the first time the German carmaker would have a Gran Coupe on a 2 Series. In September, BMW Philippines held a virtual launch of the all-new BMW 7-Series.
28) Mazda century. Mazda Philippines announced it was bringing in the 100th Anniversary Special Edition series models of the Mazda3 Sportback and MX-5. Deliveries started in September. In October, it revealed the gasoline-powered 2020 Mazda CX-5, with the diesel variant coming in by 2021.
29) Outlander available, finally. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp announced in September the availability of the Outlander PHEV, with sales starting at the Manila Bay branch of the Peak Motors Philippines Inc dealership, which, incidentally, would also be the first to install the Mitsubishi Dendo Drive Station outside of Japan early next year. The Dendo Drive Station features a solar power and vehicle to home (V2H) system, allowing EVs/PHEVs to be charged at the showrooms as well as to supply electricity from EVs/PHEVs back to the showrooms.
30) Maxus G50 launched. Last Aug. 25, Maxus Philippines held the virtual media introduction of the all-new compact MPV Maxus G50. The three variants of the G50 are available: The 1.5 Turbo DCT Pro; the 1.5 Turbo DCT Elite, and the 1.5 Turbo DCT Premium.
31) Boondock goes online. For its first online launch, Isuzu Philippines Corp introduced the 2020 D-Max Boondock 4×4 June 17. IPC calls the latest iteration of its D-Max pickup its ultimate off-roader, which heralds the company’s new lifestyle campaign “Live Life Differently” that boldly responds to the challenges of the new normal.
32) Car launch and advocacy in one. The online launch of Mazda Philippines’ BT-50 Pangolin was held in November, which also expressed the carmaker’s advocacy to raise awareness on a critically endangered species found only in Palawan.
33) Jeeps online. The Auto Nation Group digitally launched the all-new Jeep Renegade and the Jeep Compass May 23. It also announced the arrival of the Jeep Gladiator in July.
34) JAC goes digital. Triesenburg Auto Corp, the official distributor of JAC passenger and light commercial vehicles in the country, held an online event last July ushering in the all-new S4 compact SUV.
35) Jaguar electrifies online. All British Cars, the official distributor of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in the Philippines, launched last July the all-EV Jaguar I-PACE.