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Awake before sunrise

Awake before sunrise

Tessa R. Salazar

Let’s give credit where credit is due.

I’ll just have to say, before electric vehicles (EVs) and new-energy mobility became a sunrise industry here in the Philippines, Mark Andrew Tieng was bold and idealistic enough to bring in the BYD (Build Your Dreams) brand, which was hitherto unknown in the local market.

Mark is the president and CEO of Solar Transport and Automotive Resources Corp. (Solar Transport), the company that paved the way for the entry of BYD. Solar Transport is a wholly Filipino owned and Philippine-based company founded in December 2012, and became the authorized Philippine distributor of BYD Auto China Ltd. Co. in 2013. Such had been his passion for pushing vehicle electrification in the country that in 2017, Solar Transport was given the After-Sales Elite Award by BYD design director Wolfgang Egger at the Intercontinental Hotel in Shanghai during the BYD Dreamcast Conference.

Remember, this was 2017. At the time, you could count with the fingers of one hand those automakers who were bringing in EVs here. But by this time, BYD had already earned a record 5 billion RMB in profits, and surprisingly, Mark’s BYD Philippines had bested 100 other dealers globally. The award was based on Solar Transport’s BRO (BYD response operations) and other factors, which included the setup of the only full-service infrastructure and facilities in the Philippines— operating service centers with a steady and sure supply of genuine BYD parts and accessories, manned by capable service and automotive technicians.

Mark surely had an eye for global winners, because eventually, the Guangdong-based BYD would go on and dethrone Tesla as the world’s largest EV manufacturer, with brand presence in more than 200 countries.

The sudden prominence of BYD as the world’s leading EV maker is what probably motivated Ayala Corporation to take a keen interest in the brand, and seeing that it aligned perfectly with its own efforts at establishing an extensive EV ecosystem in the country, it made a successful bid to take over the local BYD distributorship.

The deal was announced August 11 when AC Motors held a media roundtable conference at Fairmont Makati. Though I wasn’t there because of a previous commitment, the information handed to me revealed that Ayala Corp had, indeed, finalized the deal to be the official Philippine distributor of BYD, which the company describes as “the world leader in hybrid and pure EVs.”

I got in touch with Mark recently and learned that he and his team “will continue to operate several BYD dealerships.” Right now, Mark manages both BYD Makati and the just-opened BYD Flagship dealership along Quezon Avenue.

“We will not waver from our mission of leading customer innovations through electric technology,” Mark said in an FB message.

Mark’s official statement as president and CEO of Solar Transport thus reads:

“We are pleased to formally announce to you our esteemed partners and valued clients that AC Motors has officially entered into a significant partnership with BYD and Solar Transport. This partnership designates AC Motors as the official distributor of electric vehicles, while concurrently maintaining our pivotal role as one of the major dealership operators, our commitment remains to actively support the efforts of BYD to fortify the electric vehicle (EV) industry within the country.

“Exciting developments are on the horizon as we prepare to inaugurate a new dealer showroom along Quezon Avenue, complementing our existing Makati dealership. Moreover, we will continue to serve as the authorized distributor of BYD material handling equipment across the Philippines.

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“Guided by our unwavering mission to drive innovative customer experiences through electric technology, we stand resolute in our pledge to provide unparalleled quality service to our esteemed clients. Your enduring trust, which has been a cornerstone since our inception, fuels our dedication to not only greening the roads but also championing sustainable and environmentally conscious transportation solutions.

“With great enthusiasm, we look forward to this new chapter, fortified by our partnerships and driven by the shared vision of a cleaner, more sustainable future.”

The ball is now in AC Motors’ court, and in the hands of a young AC Motors head Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala.

Part of AC Motors’ advantage is its focus on “prioritizing the electric mobility vehicles as the enabler of Ayala’s ecosystem,” adding that its group “is uniquely positioned to provide long-term value to EV customers, given its assets in renewable power generation, automotive distribution and dealerships, property development and management, manufacturing, financing and insurance, and digital connectivity—all of which are critical components of the EV ecosystem.”

PHOTO: Solar Transport and Automotive Resources Corp. (Solar Transport) President and CEO, Mark Tieng and his wife