Russian GAZ minibuses brought in for public jeepney modernization program

GAZ Asia Sales Head Kristina Dubinina and Gazelle Motors CEO Dr. Fernando Martinez

GAZelle Next Cityline minibus

GAZelle Next Cityline minibus

GAZelle Next Cityline minibus

GAZelle Next large van / minibus

GAZelle Next large van / minibus

GAZelle Next Cityline minibus

Manila, 02 March 2018--Gazelle Motors Corporation, the Philippines' distributor of GAZ vehicles and a subsidiary of Eastern Petroleum, introduced the GAZelle Next line of minibuses and large vans yesterday.  They're bringing in the new line, particularly the GAZelle Next Cityline large-windowed minibuses, to contend for major  new demand created by the government's PUV jeepney modernization initiative.

GAZ (standing for Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod or, translated from Russian, the Gorky Automobile Plant), was established in 1929 initially with the technical assistance of the Ford Motor Company and is now, nine decades later, Russia's largest automaker.  The GAZelle Next is a recent evolution of their GAZelle original Business and smaller Sobol lines, light commercial vehicles which first rolled out in the 1990's and which are now credited with facilitating the growth of small- and medium-scale enterprises in the former Soviet Union--what is now Russia and the Confederation of Independent States or CIS.

Although the previous GAZelle editions featured homegrown GAZ engines, the GAZelle Next line now pointedly features U.S.-branded Cummins ISF 2.8L turbodiesels complying with Euro 4 and Euro 5 emission standards and tuned to deliver as much as 150hp of peak power, 330Nm of peak torque. Large 6.4m-long vans in the same class as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter utility vehicles, the GAZelle Next models configured as minibuses can have seating for as many as 17 passengers, including the driver.  While the specially configured GAZelle Next Cityline minibus, features tall window glazing, a shorter but wider 6m-long body for better maneuverability, and front-facing seats for as many as 19 adults, driver included.

Dr. Fernando Martinez, Chairman and CEO of Gazelle Motors Corporation, said that they are pitching their GAZelle Next models, the Cityline minibus in particular, as public jeepney replacements under the government and industry working group's Class 1 category. Interestingly, that category, for inner city transports with typically short routes of around 5km, was recently expanded into Sub-Classes 1a and 1b--the first for small transports with 10 to 14 passenger capacities, the second for 15 to 20, all in side-facing seats.  The GAZelle NEXT Cityline with her capacity for 19 passengers in front-facing seats plus the headroom for several people to stand in the aisle, would fit and could even exceed the specs of the new 1b sub-class.

Dr. Martinez further said that even with hefty tariffs imposed on imports from Russia, to the tune of 32% total, but also admittedly with some government subsidy of around P185k, they could price the GAZelle Next Cityline at around P1.3M. On sales and servicing presence, Gazelle Motors Corporation points to their 5 dealer centers in the country and their network of 35 accredited service centers nationwide as provided by local partners Rapide and Payless.

Dr. Martinez said that, "finally, the Philippines will benefit from advanced technology from Russia with respect to reliable and competitively-priced vehicles." He further expressed his "thanks to the aggressive economic diplomacy of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte with his historic visit to Russia, which paved the way to this partnership." The agreement between the Russian GAZ Group and the Philippine Gazelle Motors Corporation's parent company Eastern Petroleum stipulates that they will bring to this market modern, reliable and multi-functional GAZelle Next buses which meet the government's public utility vehicles modernization program.  Dr. Martinez pointedly added "comfort" to the list of benefits they seek to deliver with their vehicles, comfort to common commuters.

Christian Kremer, SVP for Sales and Marketing of GAZ Group, said that, "the start of sales of multi-functional, reliable and eco-friendly GAZelle Next minibuses is the first stage of our entrance in 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." Kremer added, "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."