The automotive landscape in the Philippines is set to shift with Brian Buendia stepping into the role of chief operating officer at Kia Philippines Motor Corporation starting from 1 July.
KPMC, renowned for its role as the official importer and distributor of Kia vehicles in the Philippines, has been under the stewardship of AC Motors, a significant entity in Ayala Corporation Industrials’ automotive wing, since its 2019 comeback.
Toti Zara, AC Motors president for Automobile Group, marked Buendia’s impending leadership as a pivotal point in Kia’s commitment to its brand slogan, “Movement that Inspires.”
According to Zara, Buendia’s role as COO is crucial for boosting Kia’s industry rankings through new model introductions and the fortification of their distribution network across 44 strategically located dealerships nationwide.
With a notable career at AC Motors since 1998, Buendia brings a wealth of experience in sales, business development and network operations to his new role.
His appointment will propel KPMC forward with fresh market strategies and crucial brand executions, ultimately enhancing brand recognition and affinity with Filipino motorists.
His leadership is anticipated to enhance brand familiarity and affinity among Filipino motorists by determining optimal products and services that cater to the needs and aspirations of a wider market base.
Under Buendia’s leadership, KPMC plans to continue the development of the electric vehicle ecosystem in the country, aiming to create a cleaner and more sustainable technological future.
This will be accomplished with the backing of Ayala organizations and other prominent industry players. Furthermore, Zara added that Buendia has been meticulously preparing for his role since the start of 2023, closely scrutinizing the local and global automotive landscape.
Buendia is poised to navigate KPMC into a future of sustainable mobility, underlined by the recent launch of the EV6 full-electric SUV. This venture is set to include improved aftersales services, a continuous expansion of the dealer network, and the optimization of products and services for a broadened market base.
The EV6 is a landmark product for Kia, as it’s the first car from the company to be based on a dedicated platform for battery electric vehicles.
With a single rear-mounted electric motor, the EV6 promises a smooth ride and a spacious interior, thanks to its typical “skateboard” flat under-floor battery.
This configuration allows the car to offer a cabin space similar to many midsize SUVs, despite its compact exterior dimensions.
The high-voltage, long-range battery pack can cover over 500 kilometers on a single charge, demonstrating the car’s impressive electric capability. The EV6 also scores high on safety, boasting a 5-Star Euro NCAP rating and features like Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.
Addressing the task ahead, Buendia acknowledged the challenges but emphasized they provide unique opportunities to uplift the world-class Kia brand in the local market.
“We will be stepping up our efforts to become an even more relevant player in the industry through innovation and technology in our products and services, contributing to the development of the economy while playing a significant role in sustainability efforts,” he said.
As part of its commitment to developing a comprehensive EV ecosystem, KPMC, in partnership with Ayala Group, is setting up charging stations at strategic locations across the country.
This is a considerable challenge in a country like the Philippines, which is composed of over 7,100 islands.
However, the plan is moving forward successfully, with charging stations now available in the major islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
These charging stations are being installed in key locations, including malls and corporate offices, demonstrating the company’s commitment to making EVs a feasible and sustainable option for transportation in the Philippines.
Buendia’s leadership will build upon the landmark achievements of outgoing KPMC president Manny Aligada, who is set to retire on 30 June.
Aligada was instrumental in Kia Philippines’ revival under Ayala management, propelling the brand to one of the fastest-growing car brands in the region, and achieving the highest growth rate in retail sales in 2022.
The Stonic subcompact crossover and the EV6, the first EV in the Ayala mobility ecosystem, are among the notable new model launches under Aligada’s tenure.
Reflecting on his time at the helm, Aligada expressed his pride in having led Kia Philippines to its current standing.
“It is an honor to have served our internal and external stakeholders who have continuously supported Kia, enabling it to be among the best-selling brands in the country,” he remarked.
As he departs, Aligada leaves behind a legacy of the multi-awarded EV6 as the pioneering face of Kia, which sets a sustainable course for the future of mobility in the Philippines.
As Buendia takes the helm at KPMC, his leadership will be instrumental in furthering the company’s journey toward sustainable mobility. He will continue to build on the successes of the past and drive new initiatives that will shape the future of Kia in the Philippines, firmly establishing the brand in the realm of sustainable and electric mobility.
With the EV6 as a harbinger of this new era, Kia Philippines is poised to continue its growth trajectory and make a lasting impact on the automotive landscape in the country.