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Ayala speaks of the opportunities of disruption as they bring global electric mobility leader BYD under the AC Motors banner

While the local and global automotive industries are still somewhat in flux, even those within the AC Motors family, Ayala has chosen to make a big and somewhat out-of-the-box choice.

Why would this be challenging or disruptive? Because in the Philippine market, one of the biggest questions is “should I already get a hybrid?” So is the market really ready for electric vehicles, enough so that the mammoth Ayala group takes a major stand?

In many ways, electric vehicles are about vision. The brand BYD was created by vision, it actually says Build Your Dream on some cars. The brand was also brought into the Philippines almost a decade ago by Mark Tieng and Solar Transport, and that has provided years of data, testing and market interaction, and experience. And that, at a time when no one was really thinking about it, was about vision as well.

What then is the vision of Ayala?

As AC Motors Head Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala said, just after they signed the agreement that morning making Ayala Corporation the official Philippine distributor of BYD, it isn’t just about mobility.

If you look at the history of the Ayala Group, you will see a heritage of providing value to the Philippine consumer and also to the Filipino themselves. A heritage of seeing ways that new, and yes disruptive, technologies and practices can provide opportunities to just make things better on a larger scale for most people.

You will also see action and commitment. Many question whether going electric for vehicles really just shifts the pollution from the car to the probably dirty plants that produce electricity.

The answer of the Ayala Group was to have their banking arm, BPI, commit to no longer funding such projects. So, action.

BYD Philippines President Toti Zara

Becoming the distributor of BYD electric vehicles in the Philippines is a rather large challenge, but it is also a bet on a very strong horse. The Chinese (though we should really be saying China-based global) car maker, is at the forefront of battery research, and development, and supplies the biggest global companies, as well. So, in a world full of new companies selling electric cars and old companies adding electrics to their offerings, BYD is a great choice if you are willing to make the commitment. And take the risk.

But, this isn’t necessarily just about mobility. Just as, decades ago, cellular phones weren’t just about phone calls. Well they were at the start but that all changed. The commitment here is about seeing something that isn’t exactly fully-formed yet, and starting early to take a position.

And taking an early position is something for which the group is rather known for.

“The Ayala portfolio is uniquely positioned to provide long-term value to customers in this emerging ecosystem,” said Mr. Zobel. “Through our capabilities in efficient energy management, our strategic real estate assets for charging infrastructure, our existing automotive distribution and dealership network, and capabilities in digital connectivity and financing, we believe we are in a position to provide value to customers.”

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Perhaps then what is happening is this. They aim to use their huge business group to allow them to think out of the box in this particular industry but with a vision towards something more expansive. Which, actually, they do have some experience with.

The new BYD Flagship Showroom of electric mobility pioneer Solar Transport just opened on Quezon Avenue. On hand were new and previous BYD vehicle buyers, a testament to the usability of the BYD electric platform they have been selling for over a decade. This included owners of multiple electric vehicles who provided insight into living within the ecosystem, and who said they regularly found themselves centers of attention for others who were interested.

That is perhaps the most obvious testament to the technology, that those that live it, are the best most authentic spokespeople.

MAIN PHOTO: AC Motors Group CEO and President Jaime Alfonso Zobel de Ayala