Bangkok, Thailand — General Motors announced seasoned executive Hector Villarreal as president of GM Southeast Asia, effective immediately. Villarreal will be based in Bangkok, Thailand as he has been appointed to lead the important region of Southeast Asia following the retirement of Ian Nicholls after 27 years of distinguished service with GM.
Villarreal vacates his post as managing director of GM Russia to come to GM Southeast Asia. In his new role, he will focus on growing the Chevrolet business and brand in Thailand and Southeast Asia, with a particular emphasis on Chevrolet’s truck and SUV strategy through the world-class Colorado and Trailblazer.
“Hector brings to Southeast Asia strong commercial acumen from his experiences leading GM businesses and functions in several international markets, including Mexico, Korea, Uzbekistan and Russia. Hector has with a deep understanding of our business and a proven track record in building strong stakeholder relationships to maximize performance with our teams, distributors and dealer partners,” Andy Dunstan, president and managing director, GMIO Strategic Markets, Alliances & Distributors said.
Villarreal began his career with GM in 1990 as a manufacturing project engineer at the Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico. Since then, he has held various positions in Mexico as well as in the United States, including industrial engineering manager and vehicle line director. He also served as planning and program management director for GM de Mexico.
Autonomous driving reshaping industry within 5 years
BEIJING, China (China Daily) — Self-driving technology is expected to witness large-scale commercial application in the next five years, according to Robin Li Yanhong, chairman and CEO of internet search giant Baidu Inc.
Traffic congestion will be greatly alleviated and there will be no restrictions on vehicle purchase and use in the first-tier cities of China within five years, as autonomous driving technology becomes more popular, said Li at the Baidu World 2020, the company’s annual flagship technology conference, in Beijing on Tuesday.
Li said the rate of traffic accidents will also be greatly reduced. “The intelligent transformation of the industry will bring conveniences to people’s lives and promote economic development,” he said.
According to Li, intelligent infrastructure based on the vehicle-road coordination system is expected to improve traffic efficiency by 15 to 30 percent, thus bringing 2.4 percent to 4.8 percent absolute economic growth.
The Beijing-based tech heavyweight also unveiled its cutting-edge 5G-powered remote driving service on Tuesday. Based on the smart transportation system, vehicle-to-everything or V2X technologies and high-speed 5G networks, the 5G remote driving service allows human operators to remotely control vehicles through cloud in the case of emergencies.
The company will carry out in-depth strategic cooperation with China FAW Group Corp. — a state-owned carmaker — in the fields of self-driving, artificial intelligence and digitalization. It has fully introduced Apollo Go Robotaxi, its self-driving taxi service, in Changsha, Hunan province, Cangzhou, Hebei province and Beijing.
“Autonomous driving is definitely the future development direction of the automobile industry. It not only solves traffic safety problems, but also greatly improves the efficiency of transportation, brings about economic benefits and liberates people from repetitive driving,” said Jiang Zheng, a self-driving expert at China’s GAC research and development center.
Jiang said some countries are trying to promote implementation of relevant policies and regulations related to self-driving technology.
Chinese automaker Weltmeister will launch a new car next year equipped with Apollo’s level four autonomous valet parking technology, allowing people to park and summon the vehicle autonomously. Vehicles at L4 can complete all driving operations independently.
China is planning to realize the mass production of vehicles capable of conditional autonomous driving and commercialization of highly autonomous vehicles in certain circumstances by 2025, according to a blueprint issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and nine other ministries.
Road tests for self-driving vehicles are available in more than 20 provinces and cities in China. Companies such as SAIC Motor, BMW, Didi Chuxing and DeepBlue Technology have obtained authorization for passenger-carrying tests.
Baidu is one of several Chinese technology firms that have launched autonomous taxi services to the public in the country in an attempt to bolster the large-scale commercial use of such cutting-edge technology. Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing platform, announced in June the opening of its on-demand robotaxi service for passengers in Shanghai.
Intelligent vehicles with fully autonomous functions may account for 10 percent of the new vehicles this year and self-driving vehicles will likely be part of people’s daily lives in 2030, Tsinghua University automobile engineering department dean, Yang Diange said.
Epitome of brilliance
Maserati enters the new era with the MC20, the new super sports car that combines performance, sportiness and luxury in the unique Maserati style. This prodigy was presented to the world in Modena during the iconic marque’s “MMXX: Time to be audacious” event.
The new MC20 — MC for Maserati Corse and 20 for 2020, the year of its world première and the start of the brand’s new era — is the Maserati everyone was waiting for. It is a car with incredible aerodynamic efficiency, wherein underneath thrives a sporty soul, with the new Nettuno engine, a 630 horsepower V6 with torque of 730 N-m that delivers 0-100 km/h acceleration in under 2.9 seconds, while topping a speed over 325 kph. An engine that signals Maserati’s return to producing its own power units after a hiatus of more than 20 years.
The MC20 is an extremely lightweight car under 1,500 kg and thanks to its power output of 630hp it comes out best-in-class in weight/power ratio — at just 2.33 kg/hp. This record is achieved through the use of choice quality materials, exploiting all the potentials of carbon fiber without any sacrifices with regard to comfort.
Nettuno, the first engine in this new chapter of the Trident’s history, is the MC20’s twin turbo V6, a technologic gem already awarded an international patent, which puts the MTC (Maserati Twin Combustion) technology, the ground-breaking combustion system developed in-house, onto the world’s roads.
This revolutionary project has resulted in a car that epitomizes Italian excellence. In fact, MC20 was designed in Modena and will be built at the Viale Ciro Menotti plant, where the Trident’s models have been built for more than 80 years. The new production line — created in the spaces where the GranTurismo and GranCabrio models were assembled until November 2019 — is now ready for action in the historic plant. The site also features a new paint shop incorporating innovative, environment-friendly technologies. Nettuno will also be built at the newly established Maserati Engine Lab in Modena—making all its components 100 percent Italian-made.
The MC20’s architecture was produced in about 24 months — with the involvement from the outset, in an innovative approach — of a team of Maserati Innovation Lab engineers, its own technical specialists.
The virtual vehicle dynamics development system, which includes the use of one of the world’s most advanced dynamic simulators, was developed in-house by the Maserati Innovation Lab and is based on a complex mathematical model called “Virtual Car”. This method allowed performance of 97 percent of dynamic tests, optimizing development times. The car was then fine-tuned in the best Maserati tradition with exhaustive track and road test-driving sessions in the most widely varying conditions of use.
The guiding theme of the MC20’S design was the Brand’s historic identity, with all the elegance, performance and comfort integral to its genetic make-up. The focus on performance led to the conception of a car with a distinct personality, with unmistakable forms that render it unique.
The butterfly doors are not only stunningly beautiful but also functional, as they improve the car’s ergonomics and enable optimal access to and from the cabin.
The aerodynamics were designed through over two thousand man-hours in the Dallara Wind Tunnel and more than a thousand CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) simulations, which enabled the creation of a genuine work of art. The resulting car has a sleek line, with no mobile appendages but just a discreet rear spoiler that improves downforce without detracting from the MC20’s beauty.
Inside, every component has a purpose and is completely driver-oriented. Simple forms, very few sharp edges and minimal distractions. Two 10-inch screens: one for the cockpit and the other for the Maserati Touch Control Plus. Simplicity is also the keynote of the carbon fiber-clad central console, with just a few features: the wireless smartphone charger, the driving mode selector (GT, Wet, Sport, Corsa and a fifth, ESC Off, which deactivates the control functions), two speed selection buttons, the power window controls, the multimedia system controls and a handy storage compartment underneath the armrest. All the other controls are on the steering wheel, with the ignition button on the left and the launch control on the right.
For the launch, Maserati has also developed six new colors to characterize MC20: Bianco Audace, Giallo Genio, Rosso Vincente, Blu Infinito, Nero Enigma and Grigio Mistero.
In the same way as its predecessor, MC12, the MC20 — with its bold racing soul palpable from its name alone — also announced its intention to return to the world of racing.
Better chats with Toyota
Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) customers now have more ways to connect with the brand online with the launch of two new chat channels — its official Viber Community and its enhanced Facebook Messenger chat.
Anticipating the need of more people to use online touchpoints to access information and send inquiries, TMP continues to explore more ways to provide customers efficient, convenient and safer ways to engage and transact with Toyota and its network of dealers across the country. With social distancing requirements and quarantine guidelines in place, Toyota is giving customers easy options to get updates or send inquiries, without leaving the safety of their homes.
Toyota PH — the official Viber Community for all Filipino Toyota owners, future customers and aficionado — can be accessed by searching for the verified Toyota PH community on Viber or by visiting https://bit.ly/toyotaviber via mobile or desktop Internet browsers.
Upon joining the Toyota PH community, members will start receiving the latest news and updates straight from TMP, car care tips, special deals and promos, exclusive content and more. Soon, members will also get to use the 2020 edition of the official Toyota PH Viber sticker set for free.
Meanwhile, Facebook users can start using TMP’s enhanced Facebook Messenger chat to send inquiries and be connected with the official Facebook Messenger chat of their preferred Toyota dealer.
To start, users can go to http://m.me/toyotamotorphilippines or search the verified Toyota Motor Philippines account (with the blue check mark) on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ToyotaMotorPhilippines) and tap on the Messenger icon or link.
A Messenger chat bubble is also available while browsing TMP’s official website so that users can immediately fire up the chat box while reading vehicle information.
The enhanced Messenger chat allows users to select their preferred vehicles and dealers with just a few taps. Dealer representatives will then contact the customer to assist them to make their car purchase process quick and seamless.
Automatically connecting the customer to the Facebook Messenger account of official dealers also lessens the chances of communicating with unauthorized accounts, protecting them from fraudulent transactions.
Prior to this, TMP launched its virtual showroom (www.toyota.com.ph/showroom).
TMP will soon launch more digital solutions to continuously help its customers enjoy the best possible car purchase and ownership experience as they navigate the new normal.
Truck kings achieve 300,000-unit sales milestone
Good news for loyal patrons of the country’s “King of Diesel Engines” as Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) recently achieved its 300,000-unit sales milestone last month.
As one of the country’s leading vehicle manufacturers, IPC sold a total of 300,133 units by end-August amid the decrease in sales volume since the beginning of the quarantine restrictions last March.
IPC has generated total unit sales of 241,389 light commercial vehicles and 58,744 commercial vehicles — with majority of its vehicles being locally manufactured in its assembly plant in Laguna since it started operations in 1996.
For 23 years, the company has maintained a strong foot hold in the local truck segment, making 2020 its 20th consecutive year as the number one truck brand in the country. Thanks to the company’s wide range of commercial vehicles that serves as a reliable business solution to its clientele nationwide.
“The company is honored to have achieved this milestone. And as we move towards the next, we vow to continue to provide business solutions and at the same time uphold local manufacturing, contributing to the Philippine economy” IPC president Hajime Koso said.
“We are very thankful to our loyal customers, who have been our brand champions and stand as our inspiration in attaining utmost ‘Customer Success,’” he added.
With more than 40 Isuzu dealerships nationwide, IPC also expressed gratitude to its dealer network, stakeholders and local suppliers.
“We take pride on our strong dealer network, especially with the support we are getting from our dealer principals, shareholders and parts suppliers, this sales milestone will not be possible without them,” Koso said.
In line with the celebration of its 300,000-unit sales milestone, IPC is set to announce special promotions as a treat to its new clients and loyal customers alike.
On top of this, the company is also giving back to the community a P300,000-donation of personal protective equipment to various quarantine facilities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao regions, living up to its tagline: “Your Responsible Partner.” These promotion and donation activities are set from the last week of September up to the end of October this year.
Safety driver in autonomous car charged
WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — An Uber safety driver at the wheel of an autonomous car during a 2018 accident in Arizona that killed a pedestrian has been charged with negligent homicide, prosecutors said.
The Maricopa County prosecutor’s office said in a statement Tuesday that 46-year-old Rafaela Vasquez had been indicted in the death of Elaine Herzberg on 18 March 2018.
Vasquez was behind the wheel of the Uber self-driving car operating in autonomous mode when it struck and killed Herzberg, who was pushing a bicycle across an unlit section of roadway at night.
No charges were filed immediately after the incident, but a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found that Vasquez, who was able to take the controls from the autonomous car at any time, “was visually distracted throughout the trip by a personal cell phone.”
“Distracted driving is an issue of great importance in our community,” Maricopa prosecutor Allister Adel said.
“When a driver gets behind the wheel of a car, they have a responsibility to control and operate that vehicle safely and in a law-abiding manner.”
Officials said Vasquez pleaded not guilty and was released with an ankle monitor.
The incident halted Uber’s testing and raised questions about the technology used in autonomous vehicles.
The NTSB report also concluded that Uber’s “inadequate safety risk assessment procedures” contributed to the accident.
Uber had disabled a factory-installed collision warning system and automatic emergency braking system for the Volvo sport utility vehicle.
Uber temporarily suspended its autonomous ridesharing program, eventually putting its self-driving cars back on the road in Pittsburgh in “manual mode,” with a driver at the wheel at all times.
Uber did not immediately respond to an AFP query on the indictment.
Without Alonso, 250,000 fans, Toyota still favorites
LE MANS, France (AFP) — Fernando Alonso and 250,000 diehard fans haven’t made it to this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hour race which Toyota are hot favorites to win for a third consecutive year.
The 2020 edition of the motorsport classic will be played out in the shadow of COVID-19, with the famous La Sarthe circuit’s cavernous grandstands eerily empty.
Organizers ACO had initially hoped to allow in a portion of the quarter of a million petrol heads making the annual sleep-deprived pilgrimage.
But maintaining social distancing protocol around the entire 13-kilometer track was proving too problematic, resulting in the total crowd ban for the event uprooted by the pandemic from its usual June slot for the first time since 1968.
Two-time Formula One world champion Alonso helped Toyota win in 2018 and 2019, but he forgoes a chance to land the treble to focus instead on his F1 return next year with Renault, competing as Alpine in 2021.
Alonso’s seat in the team comprising Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima has been taken by Brendon Hartley.
The New Zealander won the 2017 Le Mans for Porsche.
Sharing the wheel of Toyota’s second car are Michael Conway, Kamui Koyabashi and Jose Maria Lopez.
Game-changing cinema treat wows
The country’s first-ever drive-in cinema has taken Filipinos — particularly the local magical world of cinephiles — by storm.
To be honest about it, I have always been a big movie buff myself since college — being an active member of various film organizations then — to the point of even co-founding one. In fact, even before the pandemic, I was in the movie house at least once a week like clockwork. And so, when I first heard the news that drive-in cinemas were going to hit our shores a few months ago despite the ongoing pandemic, I was ecstatic.
Even more so when I personally received a movie invite from Ford Philippines’ PR agency for the film showing of Peninsula/Train to Busan 2 at SM Mall of Asia’s Movies by the Bay — you more or less get the picture of how I felt. It was a manna from heaven. Couple this with the lend-out its latest prodigy, the Ford Territory — and indeed — I was in for a real treat.
At first — being unprecedented — I didn’t have any idea of how the experience was going to be like. Just imagine the scene from the movie: Ford v Ferrari wherein Henry Ford II was taken for one exhilarating shotgun ride by Carroll Shelby inside the legendary Ford GT for the first time. (Google it if you haven’t seen it).
That’s basically how I personally felt during this one-of-a-kind cinematic treat. I was in a different whole new universe. And to just clearly emphasize how I truly felt — not to mention in honor of the marvelous realm of cinema — this motion picture game-changer in the local scene allowed me to describe the whole experience with a little twist by quoting lines from a few of my favorite movies and combining them with a little of my own personal take of this historic cinematic event in my life.
“They could never have imagined, those pioneers who invented the automobile that it would possess us like this, our imaginations, our dreams. Men love women, but even more than that, men love cars” — Lord Hesketh (Rush, 2013)
Yes, the love of cars. This was probably perhaps one of the reasons why they first put up the very first drive-in cinema in the United States as early as 1920. With their wild imaginations, it was obvious that inventors of this kind of entertainment couldn’t just ditch their cars for some hookup. Inside their own cars, the experience was more private and intimate compared to being out there in the open. Drive-ins then flourished up until the 1960s before organizers decided it was not anymore feasible.
In our case, this concept would not have been introduced in our local entertainment industry if not for the imposed movie theater shutdowns and quarantine restrictions. Blame the virus for this sudden surge, perhaps?
“You can’t just walk out of a drive-in” — Danny Zuko (Grease, 1978)
John Travolta may have implied a different message here in one of his drive-in trysts. But one cannot just walk out of a drive-in — or in this case — your car in a whim.
Safety protocols were imposed and only a maximum of four persons were allowed in a car. From checking one’s temperature at the entrance, to contactless payments, unabatingly announcing safety reminders from its 20-meter long and eight-meter high movie screen, strict wearing of facemasks and filled-up contact tracing forms, they were diligent. Even social distancing inside the vehicle was also imposed to observe strict protocols and to avoid — ehem — any hanky-panky.
Good thing a bag of popcorn, hotdog and water was provided for all occupants. One can already get this and a whole new movie treat for P400. Not bad.
“That was the best acting I’ve ever seen in my whole life” — Trudi Fraser (Once upon a Time in Hollywood, 2019)
11-year-old Trudi Fraser may have been referring to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Rick Dalton here in the 2019 flick Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (wherein a drive-in cinema was also shown in one of the scenes), but if I were to say this to a person and tweak it a little bit — it would be to the people of SM Cinema for coming up with this brilliant idea.
Not to mention, I’d say this to the people behind the American carmaker who invited us for this treat. You see, the movie’s audio was transmitted via FM frequency. And with the superb sound system of the Ford Territory complemented by the premium feel of its interiors from exceptional leather seats, to the wooden veneers, cup holders and the exquisite panoramic moonroof — no quality and amount of cinematic experience in the past could ever top this.
Being a movie buff myself, I would personally say: “That was the best movie I’ve ever experienced in my whole life”.
“We’re going to make history” — Carroll Shelby (Ford v Ferrari, 2019)
If you’ve seen this American film, you pretty much have an idea of the kind of person Carroll Shelby was. He was driven and even more so — persevering. And I say that these kinds of people make colorful wonderful stories in history.
Speaking of wonderful stories, one SM Cinema executive even said in one report: “The first SM Drive-in cinema drew an overwhelming reception from the public. Tickets are selling fast. There was a positive response from the public as it was an innovative, fun and safe of watching movies.”
With the company’s steadfast outlook and this revolutionary take on watching movies, they definitely made history. And I’m glad I was part of it.
Now, excuse me for this rather different take on this motoring piece. Perhaps it’s not that obvious how much I’ve missed going to the movies after six months of holding back.
Siomai King lets you enjoy, experience authentic Chinese food while at home
Craving authentic Chinese dimsum and beef noodles but afraid to leave your home as the infectious coronavirus is still lurking everywhere? Don’t fret, Siomai King online ordering portal will bring you what you crave right at your doorstep.
Siomai King Express has recently launched its seasonal products for you to cook, enjoy and experience the unique taste of Taiwan Beef Noodles, Pork Gyoza, Vegetarian Kuchai and regular Pork Dumplings, the oriental zesty taste of Spicy Chicken, Spicy squid and Spicy pork when you order through its ordering portal.
You may also include in your order list the Siomai King Express’ unique Taiwan Asado and Bola bola siopao that boast about their rich taste. And don’t forget to order Manthou with four choices to choose from.
These seasonal products are easy to prepare, with cooking instruction indicated on every product you ordered, so you will surely turn your dining room into a Chinese restaurant in no time!
Siomai King, the first food franchise brand in the country that introduced an innovative “Online” franchise business approach to help people to earn extra cash while the country is baffled with the continued threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both Siomai King franchisees and customers alike can enjoy delectable frozen oriental choices, and giving the former additional earnings while at the comfort and safety of their homes.
As the demand continue to grow, Siomai King commits to develop and innovate more of its services and providing its growing customers more options by strategically adding quality frozen food products in its menu.
So the next time you want to experience that distinctive Chinese food, just grab your phone, and order online! Let Siomai King satisfy your oriental appetite!
P2.69B electric bill savings for businesses in the Meralco franchise area
A total of P2.69 billion electric bill savings has been provided to Manila Electric Company (Meralco) business customers, both small and medium enterprises, and large corporations during lockdown from 16 March to 31 August brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
Meralco, the country’s largest power utility, has waived the Guaranteed Minimum Billing Demand (GMBD), its contribution to the government’s effort to keep the economy on track while battling COVID-19.
From 16 March to 30 June, Meralco, the country’s largest power utility waived the Guaranteed Minimum Billing Demand (GMBD) amounting to P1.906 billion for 87,728 business customers.
In July, GMBD suspension was extended to industries that have been allowed only parti
al operational capacity, or not allowed to operate, based on the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) GCQ Guidelines. This benefited 57,939 business customers with GMBD relief estimated at P513 million.
In August, further extensions were granted for industries that have been allowed skeleton workforce to 50% operational capacity, or not allowed to operate, based on updated IATF Guidelines and Department of Trade and Industry Memorandum Circular for MECQ. This benefited 28,463 business customers with GMBD relief estimated at P272 million.
By waiving the GMBD, Meralco, led by President and CEO Atty. Ray C. Espinosa, hopes this will help local businesses, from small to large, and keep the economy afloat.
In these challenging times, it’s important to reignite a cycle of prosperity: keeping businesses going, providing jobs, and contributing to the country’s taxes – all of which are essential to stop the economy from sliding further.
At a House committee on good government and public accountability on 24 August, Meralco announced its continuous efforts to provide financial relief to its customers, in addition to allowing customers to pay their electricity bills in installments.
Here are several of the company’s initiatives to do more than just keeping the lights on.
Force majeure amounts to total savings of P1.9B
Meralco had invoked since March the force majeure provisions in its contracts with power suppliers. This lowered generation charge and resulted in total savings of P1.9 billion, which the utility company has passed on to its customers in the form of lower power rates.
(Link RELATED: Expect Lower Power Rates in August)
Shouldering the P30.4M total convenience fees and P64M meter reading costs
The distribution utility emphasized that it continues to shoulder the convenience fee for Meralco Online transactions until the end of GCQ period. Convenience fees previously collected from 16 March to 15 July have been completely refunded already to customers. This covers 647,000 transactions amounting to P30.4 million.
In his update report, Espinosa also explained that meter reading costs not incurred during the ECQ and MECQ period have also been refunded beginning July 15, 2020, covering 6.7 million customers’ bills amounting to P64 million.
‘Lifeline customers’ discount totals to P101M
Meralco will provide a discount to the distribution charge collected from 2.77 million ‘lifeline customers’ or those who consume 100 kilowatts per hour and below as of February 2020. 40 percent of Meralco customers fall within this consumption bracket.
“We will be providing them relief equivalent to P101 million in the form of distribution charge discount,” said Atty. Espinosa.
No disconnections further extended
“In response to your request, I am now extending Meralco’s suspension of disconnection until the end of October to give more time to our customers to save enough to be able to pay for their bills,” said Atty. Espinosa in the same hearing.
Bulacan First District Representative Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado said that they have been working to extend Meralco’s grace period, but urged customers who are capable of settling their bills to take initiative to prevent the energy sector from collapsing, which can cause the economy to slide down further, “Personal po kaming nakikiusap… kung kaya natin magbayad, magbayad tayo. Dahil kapag bumagsak ang energy sector natin balik na naman tayo sa stone age… wala rin tayo magiging trabaho kasi sino naman ang mag-iinvest sa bansang Pilipinas kung wala tayong kuryente.”
(“We are personally and humbly asking for your consideration… if we can settle our bills, let’s settle them. Because if our energy sector crumbles, we will regress back to stone age… we also won’t have jobs because who would want to invest in the Philippines if we don’t have electricity.”)
Meralco continues to do everything in its power to help sustain the economy; from keeping the lights on, to keeping its customers and the country empowered.