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Russian vehicle firm enters PH market.

Russian automotive firm GAZ group is rolling out its GAZelle line of buses and minibuses in the Philippines through five dealerships set up with local firm Eastern Petroleum Corp., seeking to ride on the government's moves to modernize ageing public utility vehicles (PUVs).

The two partners also launched Gazelle Motors Corp., the authorized distributor of GAZelle vehicles in the Philippines, which has made available the GAZelle NEXT Minibuses and GAZelle NEXT Citiline framed buses-both of which run on 2.8-liter diesel engines.

GAZ and Eastern Petroleum signed a partnership in Russia last September 2017 following President Duterte's visit to that country in May last year.

In particular, the two companies agreed to supply the commercial vehicles 'which fully meet the requirements of the [Philippine] government's Fleet Modernization Program.'

Gazelle Motors said that in the first stage of the program, over the next few years until 2023, more than 200,000 units of PUVs would be replaced by new buses and more than 150 new bus routes would be launched.

Based in Nizhny Novgorod City, GAZ is part of Russia's Basic Element industrial group and exports commercial vehicles to at least 40 countries.

'Finally, the Philippines will benefit from advanced technology from Russia with respect to reliable and competitively priced vehicles,' Gazelle Motors chair and chief executive Fernando Martinez said during the launch rites on Thursday.

'[This was made possible] thanks to the aggressive economic diplomacy of [President Duterte] with his historic visit to Russia, [and] which paved the way to this partnership,' Martinez said.

According to Gazelle Motors, sales and after-sales service of GAZ vehicles would be provided through its five dealer centers and a network of 35 fully trained and accredited after-sales service centers throughout the country.

GAZelle NEXT Minibus

These service centers are results of cooperation with the local partner's companies such as Rapide and Payless.

'The start of sales of multi-functional, reliable and eco-friendly GAZelle NEXT Minibuses is the first stage of our entry to the Philippine market, which is interesting from both points of view-commercial sales and in terms of participation in a large-scale state program of public transport modernization,' said Christian Kremer, senior vice president for sales and marketing at GAZ group.

'I am sure that together with such a strong partner as Gazelle Motors Corp., we will be able to quickly and confidently develop in this market,' he added.

He said GAZelle NEXT Minibuses-which can seat up to 17 passengers-could be effectively used for route transportation or as a company office vehicle or a tourist bus.

He added that the design of the minibus provided the possibility of transporting standing passengers.

Also, the minibus can serve as the platform for various specialized vehicles: Public utility vehicles, transport for disabled people, school buses, airport shuttles and executive corporative minibuses.

Meanwhile, the GAZelle NEXT Citiline frame bus has a shorter overall length but a wider overall width of the body, but can carry up to 19 passengers.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Mar 3, 2018
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