So Volkswagen is back in the country. It's been a while since the brand that made iconic cars such as the Beetle, Kombi and Karmann Ghia has been officially in the Philippines, so the task falls upon new VW distributor, ACEI, to ensure the successful presence of the brand for the future.
The question remains: how?
At a media round-table conference, Automobile Central Enterprise, Incorporated (ACEI) outlined many of the challenges they encountered in bringing the VW brand back to the Philippines. Believe us when we say that there were plenty of surprises along the way.
It's not new to hear that locally-sold fuel has some issues with regards to quality, especially when it comes to sophisticated direct-injection engines.
The surprise came in the type of fuel that generally had VW engineers worried: our gasoline had problems with regards to the use of manganese, a replacement for lead to maintain octane ratings.
The use of manganese almost prompted VW to not bring in models altogether, but after JP Orbeta (ACEI Chairman and President) put forth a question to VW's regional office with regards to our diesel fuel instead, it turns out Philippine diesel is better suited for Volkswagen engines.
This is the reason why Volkswagen's initial line-up will be purely TDI turbodiesels.
VW from where?
It was logical for us to think that VW would be sourcing models from China given that the People's Republic has quite a manufacturing base for the brand of the People's Car, but as it turns out, we can't get from there.
As a result, Volkswagen Philippines will be sourcing from manufacturing locations farther out including Germany, India and even Mexico for their models.
Volkswagen Philippines also plans to begin operations with a Manila dealership, notably with the opening of VW Bonifacio Global City.
The initial dealer will be followed closely by another in the Visayas with Volkswagen Cebu, as well as a pair of Metro Manila dealerships possibly in Quezon City and Alabang.
Target market and pricing
The key part in VW Philippines' strategy will be pricing.
As a brand that literally means “People's Car”, VW Philippines will be pricing their models above the top end Japanese brands but lower than the brand's German compatriots such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even Audi (to which VW cars are technically related).
Owning a VW starts with the Jetta 2.0 TDI (110 PS/280 Nm/5-speed M/T) at PhP 1,295,000, followed by a trio of SUVs with the Touran 2.0 TDI (110 PS/280 Nm/6-speed DSG) at PhP 1,775,000, the Tiguan 2.0 TDI (140 PS/320 Nm/6-speed A/T) at PhP 2,109,000 and the Touareg V6 TDI (245 PS/550 Nm/8-speed A/T) at PhP 4,290,000.
Next year, VW will introducing other models such as the 21st Century Beetle, among others. VW Philippines is also planning to introduce a model closer to PhP 1M, more or less, but that's still in the future.
Apart from the standard marketing plans such as advertisements, events and the like, Volkswagen will be heavily involved in social media, so expect plenty of different hashtags, posts and tweets in the future. VW Philippines seeks not only to bring the brand to VW enthusiasts and people knowledgeable about the brand, but to introduce the brand to a much younger generation.