Subic-based auto conversion firm enters export market
By Bebot Sison Jr.
The Philippine Star 10/10/2006

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — A vehicle conversion company has been exporting reconditioned cars to markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East where the affordable second-hand vehicles are selling like hotcakes.

Subic Bay Motors Corp. (SBMC), which started venturing into the used vehicle exportation business in 2004, sent off last Sunday a batch (its latest) of 167 reconditioned sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to Thailand.

SBMC has also exported a total of 650 units to Sudan, Cambodia, Myanmar, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

"SBMC, along with our new foreign partners, will now focus on the international market by forming a new joint venture company," said SBMC general manager Ben Perez.

The joint venture will re-export vehicles reconditioned in Subic to Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and other countries in Middle East, Asia and Africa.

The units exported to Thailand last Sunday will eventually be distributed in Cambodia and Vietnam through SBMC’s marketing partner, Taihei International Co. Ltd., said Taihei managing director U Aye Aung.

Perez said his firm’s export initiative came as a result of the Supreme Court decision to totally ban the entry of used vehicles into Philippine territory.

Early this week, officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority informed local vehicle traders in the freeport that their business will no longer be allowed in Subic starting Oct. 15.

SBMA sources clarified, however, that re-exportation may be permitted since it does not violate the ruling of the Supreme Court on used vehicles.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said workers in the vehicle trading industry won’t be totally displaced because of SBMA’s job-matching program. He said workers at conversion yards could be matched with other Subic locators like Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Corp., which needs a lot of welders, mechanics and tinsmiths for its $1-billion shipyard project here.

Perez said that while the decision to ban used-vehicle trading may undermine Filipino ingenuity in the conversion industry, the SBMC will try to widen its market and employ more workers who will be displaced with the closure of small used-vehicle retailers.

"We have at once recognized that the court decision will put to death the second-hand vehicle trading industry in Subic, so we thought of ways to resurrect our business by exportation of our products," Perez explained.

"While it appeared that the government is bent on stopping the sale of used vehicles in the local market, we found out that Filipino ingenuity and craftsmanship in the conversion of right-hand-drive vehicles is now being recognized in other countries so that’s one opportunity for us," he revealed.

"Besides, we cannot just let go of our skilled workers who have already developed this unique expertise in automobile conversion," Perez added.

Perez said the integrity of SBMC’s export products have been tested by buyers abroad. The units which were exported abroad have all passed tests for road worthiness and environmental compliance, he added.

Perez added that as of now the SBMC is undertaking the complete reconditioning of 300 units of used vehicles from steering conversion and mechanical repairs to tinsmith works and repainting.

Perez also announced that the SBMC recently welcomed two Japanese firms that wanted to partner with SBMC for a new joint venture company in Subic.

The firms recently sent their representatives, Yoshinubo Kubo of Apple International Co. Ltd. From Mie, Japan, and Komei Toya of Azumaya Tohin Seisakusho Ltd from Nagoya, Japan for an exploratory business meeting with SBMC.
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