Terrafirma Motors, Chengdu Dayun Auto forge pact for modern jeepneys, electric truck

The country’s inevitable shift to improved public transportation continues to gain velocity as Terrafirma Motors Corporation (TMC), a subsidiary of as Columbian Auto Group subsidiary, has just inked an agreement with Chengdu Dayun Automobile Co. Ltd. (Chengdu Dayun) for a commercial vehicle assembly and distribution partnership.

In an interview with this writer, TMC President Felix Mabilog Jr. said that Chengdu Dayun, the fourth-largest private automotive company in China, will provide TMC with “drive-away chassis” units – comprised of an Isuzu engine, chassis, transmission, axles, and tires. TMC will then design, build, and assemble the body and other components onto these units. The finished products are eyed for use as modern jeepneys under the government’s public utility vehicle modernization program.

Mabilog revealed that an initial 25 vehicles have already been delivered to the San Pedro Transit Cooperative in San Pedro, Laguna, and another cooperative has placed an order for 60 units.

The ceremonial signing was executed by TMC Chairman Bienvenido Santos and Chengdu Dayun Executive Vice General Manager Xie Ping at the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City, witnessed by industry partners and guests led by Department of Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista.

“Founded by Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) Chairman Emeritus Gov. Jose Ch. Alvarez, TMC is part of the Columbian Group, which has traditionally been involved in the manufacture, assembly, distribution and retail of vehicles,” said TMC in a release. It cited past partnerships with automotive brands BMW, Kia, Mazda, Range Rover, Peugeot, and Mahindra. Presently, TMC is said to be “focusing on contributing to nationwide development by shifting from private vehicle distribution to the assembly of commercial vehicles meant to spur economic development. On a macro scale, the Columbian Group has business interests in the land, sea and air transportation industries.”

Chengdu Dayun is engaged in automotive manufacturing, real estate development, logistics, construction, and film investment.

Mabilog revealed that TMC previously sourced the drive-away chasses from India (through Mahindra), but the COVID-19 pandemic had adversely affected that company’s external vendors and could not cope with the volume ramp-up that TMC required.

Aside from the modern jeepneys, TMC is looking at the importation and distribution of configurable, battery-powered light trucks. The company displayed during the event a prototype of the Dayun Dragon EX5. “With Terrafirma’s expertise in vehicle assembly, the Dragon EX5 is set to become a fixture on Philippine roads. Eventually, with the help of our local distribution partner Astara Philippines, this product will contribute to the vehicle modernization program as a champion of clean air technology. We look forward to contributing to a brighter, cleaner future for the Philippines with this partnership with Chengdu Dayun,” said Santos, and continued that the company is in “talks with Meralco… to find ways to bring these cleaner-emitting vehicles to more industries throughout the country… We aim to electrify the future.”

Alvarez revealed to this writer that TMC is also looking at local suppliers for parts of the all-electric truck.

Mabilog concluded, “We can use this (model) later on to shift from internal combustion engines to electric. That’s the direction we’re seeing. While we our modern jeepneys will be internal-combustion-engine-powered for now, we’re offering this electric delivery van option.”

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