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Goodbye’s, hello’s, and thank you’s

ROAD SENSE

Mr. Sugata, our rock star — two weeks ago, Michinobu Sugata, a gentleman and a rock star to the motoring media, who led Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) for six years and six Triple Crowns, ended his tour of duty here.

If figures are the language that will say what Mr. Sugata was like, consider this: He took over the presidency of TMP in 2010, when annual sales recorded 56,855 units. He left at the end of 2015, with TMP’s annual sales on an all-time high – 125,027 units.

Michinobu Sugata singing along with a band.

Michinobu Sugata singing along with a band.

To the motoring journalists, it was more than sales figures that made Mr. Sugata pleasant company. A fine gentleman who can sing on stage like a rock star, and a master of the art of making a guest feel comfortable — Mr. Sugata had become endeared to many motoring journalists, especially those who joined TMP’s annual Road Trek where he was always the gracious host.

After he turned over the presidency of TMP to Mr. Satoru Suzuki early this month, our Road Trek host for five years is now assigned as the general manager of Toyota Motor Asia Pacific-Japan overseeing Asia, Middle East and the North Africa Region.

Thank you for the Road Trek experiences, the entertaining car launches, and the fine wine, Mr. Sugata!

* * *

MR. MAC AND SSANGYONG

Early this week, we welcomed the announcement that Ssangyong is back in the Philippines and will introduce to the market three new models in April. More exciting than the entry of another brand was the news that an old friend, Dave Macasadia, has been appointed to lead the new company — Ssangyong Berjaya Motor Philippines Inc. (SBMP).

The saying, “moving heaven and earth,” was how I got to attend the event held in the Manila Polo Club, coming from a meeting in Manila. Mr. Mac is a friend from the many test drive events I still could join years ago. Many already know of Mr. Mac’s close to 25 years of experience in vehicles sales and operations, but few know his fun side.

David ‘Mr. Mac’ Macasadia

David ‘Mr. Mac’ Macasadia

Many years ago, a test drive brought us to a mountain resort in Davao, where an early version of a zip-line, using an old tire as a passenger seat, hung near where we were enjoying dinner. Challenges were made to encourage everyone to try the zipline but there were still a few who were too shy to try. To make sure that all of us would go home to Manila with one more extraordinary experience, Mr. Mac refused to go back to his cottage until everyone took the few seconds of childhood fun. So there we were (me and my good friend Butch Gamboa of Sunshine Television), sitting in an old tire attached to a cable, laughing like teenagers after the wild moment when we kicked the ground to give ourselves a push to zip on to the other side!

We can expect that kind of excitement from the Ssangyong vehicles that Mr. Mac will present to the market soon, starting with the the Korando, Tivoli and Rodious.

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VW’S MEDIA APPRECIATION NIGHT

I regret not making it to the Media Appreciation Night of Volkswagen Philippines last week, but the traffic condition from Manila to Bonifacio Global City on a Friday defeated all my plans to be there. A month ago, another old friend, Timmy de Leon, PR and Events Head of Volkswagen Philippines, had informed me to save the day for that. Unfortunately, this O-WOW (Old-Woman-On-the-Wheel) had to bow to the failure of whoever is in charge of keeping traffic flowing.

VW PH CEO, JP Orbeta

VW PH CEO, JP Orbeta

Top officials of Volkswagen Philippines, led by President and Chief Executive Officer, John Philip Orbeta, and Chief Operating Adviser, Klaus Schadewald, thanked the journalists across all media platforms for helping make 2015 a banner year for Volkswagen Philippines.

“I express my deepest appreciation to all of you for helping us achieve extensive market awareness for our entire product line-up. I also want to express my gratitude for helping Volkswagen hurdle the challenges along the way, through your balanced, objective and fair reports of the various automotive issues,” Orbeta said in his welcome remarks.

Launched during the party were the Jetta Comfortline and Trendline diesel and petrol automatic variants and the upgrades and enhancements to the Polo Sedan, Tiguan SUV. Schadewald also announced the introduction of the Golf Comfortline and Highline variants; the R-Line of the Passat and Touareg, and; the return of the original rugged version of the iconic Beetle, the Beetle Dune coming later in the year.