By Brian M. Afuang
TWO mobility-related presentations held last week — the first in Singapore and the next was in Bangkok, Thailand — bared developments soon to impact car users in Southeast Asia, as well as in most parts of the world. Interestingly, the two cars spotlighted during the presentations were as markedly different as they could be.
One is a model that presently has to hurdle several obstacles in order for it to enter the Philippines; the other is a product that, chances are, will land on local showrooms before the year is through. One speaks of future technologies and the effect these may likely have on societies’ mobility; the other is a machine you can stunt-jump if so desired. One is about insights; the other is wrapped around the idea of driving fun.
Nissan on Feb. 6-7 held in Singapore a series of presentations and dialogues on electric-powered and autonomous-driving vehicles, with its Leaf EV serving as a humming, rolling argument for electrification and the platform it would provide for Nissan’s future driverless technologies. The car maker also brought the Leaf and Note e-Power, a hybrid-powered model, to a test track specifically built for autonomous driving vehicles at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. Getting to drive the cars on the track put a real-world perspective on the concepts forwarded during the discussions.
Over in Bangkok, Ford on Feb. 7 revealed the first Raptor version of its Ranger pickup. The car maker put a huge box amid a sprawling parking lot to display the mechanical bits of the new pickup, as well as to house a virtual monster truck arena in which the Ranger Raptor was launched. Though based on the current Ranger pickup, the Raptor is a much more evolved high-performance version that’s practically a set of decals and a roll cage away from desert rally racing. Well, Ford did jump the truck a couple of times to allow a glimpse of what it can do.
Significantly, despite the difference between the concepts underlying Nissan’s and Ford’s products, neither car could be considered as more “important” than the other — everything is relative. Nissan could have brought out its high-performance Nismo offerings, headlined by its legendary GT-R, while Ford could have discussed its $11-billion initiative to bring 40 EV and hybrid models to market by 2022, or its own autonomous-driving projects that involve partnerships with both mass transport and Silicon Valley companies, and the tone taken by either company during its presentations would have suitably switched.
What is clear, then, is that in either case, what was proposed is that technology will allow — and have allowed cars, in whatever shape or form they may take — to become more efficient, relevant and enjoyable. There is diversity in the future of mobility.