French vehicles on Cebu roads? Oui, says dealer-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Thursday, March 21, 2013
AS the Philippine economy continues to improve, so do the demands of car owners.
Seeing the local market was ready for an upgrade, Cebu distributor Autowelt has reintroduced French carmaker Peugeot to Cebuanos, continuing its partnership with Eurobrands Distributors Inc., the Philippine distributor and a member of the Columbian Group of Companies.
Peugeot Cebu general sales manager Lowell Belarmino said they have sold 30 units since September last year, an indication that the Cebuanos are ready for a new automobile brand.
Because its price range is higher than the Japanese and Korean brands that locals are accustomed to, Belarmino said those who buy Peugeot are not first-time car buyers. He described owners of Peugeot cars as “discerning”, although they hope to introduce entry-level models in Cebu in the future.
This year, they hope to sell 200 units to the Cebuano market.
How do you say it?
For now, they have four available models, temporarily displayed at KIA showrooms until they open their main showroom and service center along Ouano Ave. in the Mandaue North Reclamation Area.
Selling a new brand presents challenges. One of them, Belarmino said, is teaching clients how to pronounce Peugeot (poo-zhoh). He assured their sales personnel undergo training just to get it right. “It takes time to educate the client. The process takes longer, but not harder,” he assured.
What surprises clients most is the price range. For such swanky looking cars, their prices range from P1.4 million to P2.7 million. Once potential customers overcome the perception that the car with the distinct lion logo is out of their reach, they are more open to the idea of owning one.
Sales team leader Ritchell Selma said their goal is simple: to make sure that anyone who leaves the dealership with a brand new Peugeot is happy.
Considered an expert in diesel, the four Peugeot models come in diesel engines. Selma assured that the diesel engines should not fool buyers into thinking their cars are noisy. As she explained the features of the four models, she showed that starting the engine barely makes a sound.
Their units are also known for the sleek European designs, which the company expects will wow car buyers with their unique features.
Among these is the micro-hybrid technology in the engines to make them fuel-efficient, as it filters fuel contaminants to make the vehicle perform better. They have also passed European environmental compliance standards, with 80 percent of the vehicle’s materials considered recyclable.
With safety issues a big concern for Europeans, their vehicles come with six airbags.
Selma also said their units have an electronic high-pressure direct injection (eHDI), which she described as a “more accurate CRDi, to boost power and fuel efficiency.”
All Peugeot units sold by Autowelt are completely built in France and shipped to the country whole, which they believe is a testament to the quality of their product.
Because Filipinos place importance on after-sales support, Selma assured their service center is equipped with the spare parts needed by the units. She explained that they placed importance on after-sales support as they hope to prove to the market that they are here to stay and want to establish their name to the discriminating Cebuano market.
Their best-seller is the Peugeot 3008, a crossover SUV with a diesel engine that ranges from P1.4 million to P1.7 million. The Peugeot 5008 is a minivan while the 508 is their diesel-powered executive sedan. Their flagship car, the RCZ, is the only unit that runs on gasoline and is their most expensive unit at P2.7 million.
Peugeot Philippines hopes to become the leading European car brand in the Philippines
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 21, 2013.