Ayala group brings back VW; Beetle in 2014

by Liza Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2013 12:45 AM | Updated as of Oct 01 2013 10:09 AM

Targets annual sales of 5,000 units


MANILA - Their long courtship has finally bore fruit as the Ayala group formally reintroduces the Volkswagen (VW) brand in the Philippines with its grand commercial launch over the weekend.

This marks Ayala’s third auto brand, coming in at a time when the economy is on an upswing, effecting growth in the country’s middle class and various industries such as the automotive sector.

These sweet spots in the economy buoy Volkswagen’s slogan “the time is now” as Europe’s largest automaker partners with the Philippines' oldest conglomerate.

“We cannot think of a better time to bring Volkswagen back to the Philippines. There is exciting growth in the automotive industry and there is a very positive outlook for the country,” said Fernando Zobel de Ayala, president and COO of Ayala Corp.

Through unit Ayala Automotive Holdings, VW’s first dealership is at the Bonifacio Global City, with five more dealership networks opening next year namely in key provinces and cities, such as Cebu.

A service center has also opened in Mandaluyong City, where 15 state-of-the-art service bays will be used to attend to VW customers. It offers four diesel-run models as part of the initial line-up, with the iconic Beetle targeted to come in by the first quarter of 2014.

The partnership aims to sell about 5,000 units annually, offering a wider range of vehicles for Filipino consumers.

Weiming Soh, Volkswagen president for commercial operations in ASEAN and greater China explained, in order to create a "business case," there’s a need to sell more than 5,000 units. However, plans for a manufacturing assembly plant in the Philippines, he added, needs further study.

“We think long term. We build the foundations of the business early on so that when we grow, we can take the volume in the future,” Zobel de Ayala said.

The Philippines is the next frontier for VW, as it has grown by more than 46 percent in ASEAN markets over the last five years. It also aims to expand in other key ASEAN markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.

The Ayala group is importing all of the VW vehicles, with an entry-level sedan priced at P1.295 million.

“We are introducing a German engineered car, performance, reliability, safety and good looks at an affordable price range because all other German cars now are luxuries they are on the higher side,” said John Philip Orbeta, president of Ayala Auto.

Ayala Corp. has diversified business interests in the country and has recently entered new sectors such as power generation and transport infrastructure development.