Supercars find new playground | Inquirer Business

Supercars find new playground

/ 02:09 AM March 07, 2012

THE GS Series is now available at the P1-billion Lexus Manila showroom.

Is this a sign of the (good) times? There are more global brands in the Philippines right now—from signature clothes, bags, eyewear and fine-dining restaurants to real estate developments (think of the Trump Tower) and even endorsers (imagine Paris Hilton selling the Azure Urban Resort here). And now the premium auto brands have landed on local shores, fully endorsed by their First World headquarters. We knew these supercars could run like the wind. We didn’t know they could island-hop, as well.

But a point of clarification first, your honor. We are not new to premium cars. There have been others here long before the Ferraris and the Lambos came in. Let us not forget the Volvos proudly displayed in Viking Cars, the Mercedes Benzes lounging at the CATS showroom, dreamy Porsches and Audis at PGA Cars, inviting BMWs at ACC (Asian Carmakers Corp) and, of course, Toyota’s premium brand Lexus, whose P1-billion showroom at the Bonifacio Global City is home to the only supercar LFA unit in the country. Then, to add glamor, last February 28, Lexus Manila launched the GS Series (GS350 and GS350 F Sport), which Toyota Motor Philippines president Michinobu Sugata described as “a bolder, stronger, more confident high-performance sedan offering more than just aggressive driving dynamics and aggressive styling.” To cap things off for Lexus, the GS450h Hybrid will be introduced next quarter to complete the full line-up of the GS series.


So, can we consider the following event the icing on the super-premium car segment? On March 1, Autostrada Motore Inc. held a press conference and a party to announce to the local motoring media that it would be the first importer-distributor of Ferrari and Maserati in the Philippines, and that its showroom at the 32nd and fourth Crescent Park, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, officially opens that day. Two models were unveiled: the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Maserati


Granturismo MC Stradale

Ferrari—a premium sports car manufacturer with its headquarters in Maranello, Italy—is renowned the world over for its success in racing, particularly in Formula One. Maserati—a luxury car brand based in Modena, Italy—has produced award-winning coupes and sedans such as the GranTurismo, GranCabrio and Quattroporte.

THE NEWLY OPENED Autostrada Motore Inc. has this Ferrari 458 Italia on offer.

Autostrada Motore Inc. was inaugurated together with its factory-certified service center. Herbert Appleroth, president and CEO of Ferrari Asia Pacific; Simon Inglefield, head of region, Ferrari Asia Pacific Other Countries; Gaetano Marino, regional sales director for South East Asia Pacific of Maserati; and Wellington C. Soong, chairman and president of Autostrada Motore Inc, mingled with the guests. These two brands will join Soong’s existing brands Land Rover and Jaguar.

Soong told Inquirer Motoring that the range of interest for his four brands “is all in the same bandwidth.”

Soong said that “we have been chosen by the Maserati and Ferrari brands to be the next country to distribute, that we must be proud of this choice. That says a lot. For the Philippines to have Ferrari, we have to celebrate.”


Appleroth said that “the entire range will be available on this market, imported by Autostrada Motore Inc., the partner we’ve chosen and which shares with us the passion for Ferrari and its values.”

Divas of global brands

THE LAMBORGHINI showroom at the Bonifacio Global City houses the Aventadors. PHOTO BY TESSA SALAZAR

Soong added: “I have not seen in the past 10 years that so many global brands are in the country now. Very premium boutique stores—equivalent to the stores that you can see in any country in the world like New York and London. They’re not here for nothing. They see something. I’ve never seen so many premium restaurants, so many talented chefs, so many fine-dining foods today. They’re not cheap. You can see that our people are getting more sophisticated. They know how to enjoy, they have means to enjoy. This is what we’re seeing. We’re just contributing to that appetite for luxury.”

Soong, however, said he’s taking the business slow first. “We’re not talking about 100 Ferrari units sold this year; maybe 10 to 15, just for the Ferrari brand alone. This year will be very interesting.”

Lexus Manila president Daniel Isla told Inquirer Motoring that the increasing number of luxury vehicles in the country “is a definite sign that the Philippine economy could very well be on the road to significant recovery.”

“The presence of premium-brand distributors is a testament of the confidence of their mother companies on the country. Because opening up a distributorship/dealership is an expensive exercise, and unless there are clear potential indicators, no businessman will make such a bold move.”

Isla added that while luxury brands do not relate to the mass market, it is remarkable how much the willingness of those in the upper strata of society has evolved to a particular fancy for a lifestyle of luxury as a personal reward for their achievements in life.

PGA Cars Inc. corporate affairs director Amado del Rosario offers a different take on the local luxury auto landscape. “The luxury car segment has been quite static over the last 10 years and has not changed much in terms of additional sales from new buyers.”

“New brands entering the market are just eating into the share of other brands,” Del Rosario observed.

When Inquirer Motoring asked if he was referring to all new premium entrants, including the Lamborghini brand, which PGA Automobile—a sister company of PGA Cars (the official distributor of Porsche and Audi)—will soon distribute locally, he answered: “All new entrants, as well as existing importers of luxury car brands.” Del Rosario added that “there have been a lot of negative factors dampening the growth of the luxury segment.”

Isla said this insight “might be true.”

“But looking at our country’s motorization, we’re still far away from the figures of our neighbors, i.e., Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. If our economy continues to improve, which is more likely, our growth potential is really big. A good business move is to establish presence in the marketplace before the boom kicks in,” he explained.

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True to their characters, supercars, the divas of the motoring world, enter last, and finish first.

TAGS: auto, Autostrada Motore Inc., Ferrari, Maserati, Motoring, supercars

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