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There are just over 2,000 owners of this Chinese marque in the Philippines today, which is hardly a sliver of a slice in the total automotive market pie. But Triesenburg Auto Corp (TAC)—the official distributor of JAC passenger and light commercial vehicles in the country—hopes that this number would rapidly pick up (pun intended).

Right now, TAC is pinning its hopes on JAC’s newest offering—a pickup that shows the capabilities and styling of a high-end truck, but with the affordability of a base model variant.

That’s how TAC introduced the JAC T8 pickup during its official launch on Dec. 13 streamed via its official Facebook page JAC Motors Philippines. TAC says it has married the functionalities and luxury offering of the T8 to a price point that would make the buyer “Forget the Normal”.

TAC boasts that the mother company JAC Motors Global has had over 55 years of history building heavy-duty commercial trucks, and has been recognized as among the world’s best truck makers. Those decades of expertise are what TAC claims the T8 brings to the table.

During the online reveal, JAC Motors Philippines’ group general manager Dan Rudolph Navarro said that the T8 “will offer consumers an all-around workhorse”.

The JAC T8 follows up after the JAC T6, and has been described to fit the needs of Filipinos amidst the pandemic. JAC Motors explained that pickups have become “popular for hauling, commercial and business purposes, (but) lack driver and passenger comfort, style and luxury. When consumers start thinking of acquiring a vehicle, they find themselves torn between choosing the budget version and the top-of-the-line variant.”

The T8, it claims, gives buyers both options in one pickup. The T8 sports a 2-liter turbocharged diesel engine mated a 6-speed manual transmission that generates 136hp and 320nm of torque. Its overall dimensions and ground clearance of 220 mm is at par with the competition. The front suspension is an independent double wishbone with spiral springs, while the rear is leaf spring. The T8 Ultimate variant uses disc brakes for both front and rear which, according to JAC Motors Philippines “is something the competition doesn’t have at this price point”. The Luxury variant has drum brakes at the rear. As for wheels, the T8 rolls on 18” alloy rims wrapped in 265/60 tires, while the competition uses the “usual steelies”.

The T8 is being retailed at P928,000 for the Luxury variant, and 998k for the Ultimate variant.

JAC plays catch up

I recently interviewed JAC Motors Philippines’ marketing director Brian Badilla and asked how JAC could catch up with other Chinese automakers that have had a significant head start in the Philippine market.

“The overall objective of JAC is to change the way people look at cars. When JAC was launched in the Philippines, the primary objective was to provide the best vehicles and ensure customer satisfaction to ‘Forget what’s Normal’. We were not after market share but rather see consumers get the best experience through the technology of our cars and the support we provide them during their ownership. We will continue to live with this principle and build a modest owner base,” Badilla answered.

He added: “We intend to change the way everyone looks at cars by providing them all the specs they are looking for at a very competitive price. We also focus our efforts in ensuring customer satisfaction. Comparing specs and pricing, we have the most competitive pricing and most features line-by-line. We don’t hold back in providing consumers the best possible vehicle they can have at a very attractive price for them to ‘Forget what’s Normal’.”

I asked Badilla further, specifically for the pickup market, how the T8 would stand out in a plethora of pickups from virtually every major carmaker.

Badilla said: “(Though) the JAC T8 offers the same (warranties) as all the other models we have in the line-up (5-year warranty or 150,000kms, whichever comes first), what will make the T8 stand out is the value they are getting for an amount that will not hurt them. The JAC T8’s specs are normally found in the top-of-the-line variants of other brands. No other pick-up in the market can offer the features of the T8 at our price point.”

As for the timing of the launch this late in the year, Badilla reasoned, “We believe that this is still the perfect time to launch the JAC T8. Given that everyone has been budget-conscious and doing what could be done to survive, the T8 will be an able partner to help get the job done without breaking the bank.”

TAC, which only started operations in 2018, currently has three dealers of the JAC brand: In Makati, Alabang in Muntinlupa City, and Sta. Rosa City in Laguna province. It’s scheduled to open three more dealerships by the end of 2020: One in Kawit in Cavite, one Bauan in Batangas province, and the third in Iloilo province. By 2021, at least five more are slated for opening.

“While we have a rather smaller network of dealers compared to other brands, we are still capable of providing support and proper aftersales experience to all our owners as they can have their cars serviced at our accredited Rapide Service Centers nationwide,” said Badilla.

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