As Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (MMC) celebrates its100-year existence while participating in the 45th Tokyo Motor Show, the Japanese carmaker that lays claim to have offered SUVs for decades long before the term was coined and to have introduced electric vehicles ahead of its rivals, declares that it would retain its "Mitsubishi-ness" despite now being part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
The term Mitsubishi-ness has reference to the company's century-old commitment to sound and pioneering automotive engineering as demonstrated by their groundbreaking SUV creations and path-finding electric vehicle initiatives.
The 'alliance' was formed following Nissan's acquisition of a more than 30% controlling stake of Mitsubishi last year. A move that MMC chief executive officer, Osamu Masuko candidly describes, "which brought Mitsubishi economies of scale we never had before."
As part of the media contingent hosted by Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) to the biennial international auto industry event, I had the rare privilege of being allowed to have an 'one-on-one' on camera interview with the very accommodating MMC chief executive, which we had transcribed for our column readers.
Caption : This columnist with MMC chief executive Osamu Masuko (left photo) and MMPC president Mutsuhiro Oshikiri (right photo).
RBG: Please give our viewers an idea of what lies ahead for Mitsubishi Motors now that you're celebrating your 100 years.
Masuko: We have a very long experience to develop and to manufacture cars. We have a 100-year history. Running this 100th year, we challenge many to develop new technology for a new car. Today, we have many strong technologies in our company. In the future, we use such a strong technology and also, we can use that technology and many items from alliance. Nissan also has many good technologies. We can use both technologies, our technology and Nissan technology. In the future, our chance becomes bigger compared to stand-alone. I believe our future is very bright.
RBG: With all due respect Mr. Masuko, allow me now to sound parochial by shifting to Philippine interest. We are now in the midst of developing e-vehicles for public transport. What would be the participation of Mitsubishi Philippines in this national endeavor? How strong will you be as far as coming up with electric vehicles in the Philippines?
Masuko: On this year, we've just studied our production on the CARS Program. Now, we would like to expand our business in the Philippines. Philippines has so many small island. In such a small island, e-vehicle is very safe there because running distance is not so long, maybe 20 or 30 kilometers is enough. E-vehicle is more efficient, more convenient in a small island. I think in the Philippines, e-vehicles will be mainstream in car line-up. So, we would like to challenge ourselves, someday, to produce electric vehicles in the Philippines but we need government support to start producing new cars. So, we would like to talk your government.
RBG: You've mentioned government support. Can you be more specific as to what would best help Mitsubishi as far as government's support is concerned?
Masuko: At the very beginning, cost is very high compared to existing gasoline or diesel engine. In some period, we need support - incentive support, product support.
RBG: The CARS Program is on going now. Would you like to take this opportunity to invite our Philippine viewers to take a look at your Mitsubishi Mirage and Mirage G4, the camera is yours.
Masuko: We appreciate Philippine government's decision to support. Now, we are expanding our business in the Philippines under CARS Program. In the future, we would like to try to export from the Philippines to other countries, and we would like to contribute to the Philippine economic growth. Thank you very much!
As can be gleaned from the interview, we can look forward to positive contributions from Mitsubishi Motors in the future. This include an active involvement in our country's shift to e-vehicles in the public transport sector and the possibility of manufacturing vehicles locally for export to other countries, which would mean more jobs for us-indeed positive developments in the horizon.
Having had the privilege of regularly attending the Tokyo Motor Show since the early 90s with rotating gracious hosts, it was only this year that I was limited to a day's stay at the motor show's venue due to a very tight schedule. This included a side trip to Nagoya for a test drive of a new model offering from Mitsubishi that shall be launched in the Philippines early next year. It would have been a big challenge for me if this happened in the 90s when I used to put together two episodes for the TV show Motoring Today from the footage of the motor show that I used to shoot alone. But then that was more than two decades ago when I was more than two decades younger. Fortunately a lot of things have changed since then.
Aside from invitations for STV's production manager, Jenny Bleza and STV's online operations manager, my son Ray Louis (Wee) who both help out in conducting on cam interviews and gathering video materials for our TV shows and websites, the advancement of technology and the presence of the video and information-rich web have made our jobs less challenging than more than 20 years ago.
There's also an added bonus-the very friendly motoring beat, where most (but not all) are non-scoop oriented and are always willing to share footage with their peers. Full credit goes to the multi awarded TV production couple of Jiggy andMarnie Manicad of TurboZone and other top-rating TV shows. I remember Jiggy snugging close to me at the airport even before departure from NAIA saying not to shoot anymore while in Japan as they will be sharing with me his footage and that of his wife Marnie, who's with the Toyota group-talk about real friends.
Then there's also our longtime peer and friend,Ron delos Reyes of Auto Review. Who, upon knowing that my son, Wee's motor show footage got corrupted offered posthaste to share all his shots and interviews, after all Wee also helped him with his on camera shoots-talk about friendly give and take. Both were with the Honda media contingent.
Being graciously hosted by Mitsubishi in the Tokyo Motor Show has always been an adventure for me and other journalists. It offers the rare opportunity to observe and experience the daily routine life of commuting by the Japanese people. The train rides, especially during rush hours can be very challenging for car-riding Pinoy city dudes like me. In my many trips with Mitsubishi I would always look forward to see the artistry, or is it the science involved in how the Japanese can be able to sleep while standing up train-riding or be able to expertly fold and unfold a newspaper to be able to read it in its entirety while again standing up in a very crowded, face against face commuter train-indeed a must experience, experience.
Thank you to MMPC for having us in the 45th Tokyo Motor Show.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.
At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network’s AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart’s middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN’s DZYL and DZQL.
From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.
In the early 70’s, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).
In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports’ living legend Pocholo Ramirez.
After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN’s Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable’s Channel 13.
The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport’s hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.
In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry’s latest technological developments.
In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star’s business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.
Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.
Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)