Gear­head

Ford Group PH’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor speaks.

Top Gear (Philippines) - - Contents - WORDS BY PAULO RAFAEL SU­BIDO

Ber­trand Les­sard tells us it has been a very fast eight months since he first ar­rived in the coun­try to take over as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ford Group Philip­pines. The re­vised ex­cise taxes were yet to be fi­nal­ized then, and there was an air of un­cer­tainty within the in­dus­try. “We be­lieve there was a rush to buy cars in De­cem­ber, so we should not base the per­for­mance of the in­dus­try based on these months,” he shares. “How­ever, we think there will be growth in 2018, but the seg­ments will change. Pickup sales will grow.”

This is be­cause the seg­ment is ex­empt from the new ex­cise taxes, which means pick­ups like the up­com­ing Ranger Rap­tor have be­come highly an­tic­i­pated mod­els. “We haven’t fi­nal­ized how many Ranger Rap­tors we plan to bring in,” Les­sard tells us. “It de­pends on the sup­ply and the pro­duc­tion. It’s go­ing to ar­rive in 2018 for sure, and it will be an in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tion to our lineup. It’s a beast. It’s con­cep­tu­ally the same ap­proach as the F-150 Rap­tor, and we have a lot of know-how with that.”

As for the phys­i­cal deal­er­ship, he says that it won’t dis­ap­pear, con­trary to what some peo­ple say. It’s a nec­es­sary in­ter­face be­tween dealer and cus­tomer. Be­sides, cars are not per­fect—there will al­ways come a time when they will need re­pair and main­te­nance. Les­sard adds that phys­i­cal deal­er­ships give back to the com­mu­nity as well: “The In­ter­net can­not do that, al­though the In­ter­net has made it eas­ier for car buy­ers to learn about the mod­els that are out on the mar­ket. They don’t need to to visit 10 deal­er­ships any­more, and they know more about the com­pe­ti­tion than we do. But we still need a phys­i­cal deal­er­ship.”

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY CHRIS­TIAN HALILI

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