Something new: Russian brand joins 2018 MIAS
The Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) opening tomorrow will offer visitors something really new: Russian motor vehicles on display.
Never before in the history of Philippine motor shows have there been Russian vehicles showcased, and never in the history of the Philippine auto industry has there been a Russian brand competing for market share.
Now, thanks to the distribution partnership that the Eastern Petroleum Group headed by Fernando L. Martinez recently formed with the GAZ Group of Russia, GAZelle Motors Corporation will exhibit the initial batch of GAZelle Euro 4-compliant light commercial vehicles to be marketed in the Philippines.
Based in Nizhny, Novgorod, GAZ Group has an 85-year track record of developing and producing light and medium commercial vehicles, buses, heavy duty trucks, power trains and automotive components.
The GAZ Group is integrating into the international automotive industry through industrial partnerships with leading OEMs like Volkswagen and Daimler Benz.
In fact, the GAZelle NEXT minibus and NEXT Citiline framed bus, which will be displayed at MIAS, are powered by Cummins common rail direct injection (CRDi) turbocharged diesel engines made in Indiana, USA.
The GAZelle NEXT Citiline frame bus, shorter but wider, can carry up to 19 persons. It has comfortable seats and railings that allow passengers to move around safely in the passenger compartment.
GAZelle Motors Corp., which is based in Makati City with Martinez as chairman and CEO, will also display the 4.2-liter, all-terrain, 4×4 Sadko which can carry 24 people, and the Ural NEXT medium and heavy duty trucks.
Although GAZ Group has 13 production plants employing 40,000 workers in the Russian Federation (except for one in Turkey and another in Kazakhstan), and exports to more than 40 countries worldwide, this is its first venture in Asia.
At the GAZelle Motors Corp. launch at the Manila Polo Club last month, Martinez said that GAZ Group chose the Philippines over other Asian countries because of the government’s fleet modernization program, the first stage of which will replace more than 200,000 old mini, medium and large buses with new, reliable, eco-friendly and safe buses.
That description of new buses fits GAZelle products, Martinez claims, as they are durable, easy to maintain, meet Euro 4 and Euro 5 emission standards—and are competitively priced.
In addition to targeting the public transport modernization market, GAZelle plans to bring in heavy duty trucks and equipment for the government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, which includes the opening of 150 new bus routes.
Martinez says that if they get to sell 2,000 vehicles yearly, GAZ Group may invest in a production plant in the Philippines, which will create more jobs and encourage local parts manufacturing.
For a first timer at the MIAS, that is an ambitious goal, but it merits a wait and see attitude at the very least.