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Friday, June 21, 2024

Turning up the offroad game

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The surging popularity of glamping and off-roading has become an unstoppable trend across the country today. Large vehicles, including pickups, SUVs, MPVs, and APVs, are undergoing conversions or modifications to transform into extreme off-road machines capable of navigating the toughest terrains beyond the city limits.

Glamping, a term closely associated with camping and embracing the outdoors, has found a niche among enthusiasts. Simultaneously, off-roading has become a sport involving driving robust trucks over rugged and challenging landscapes. Frequently, 4×4 trucks are preferred by the growing number of glamping enthusiasts in nearby provinces, where they can establish temporary camps and enjoy the outdoors with their families. These customized trucks for glamping, known as rigs, are equipped with various camping amenities integrated into different parts of the vehicles.

Randy Lao, the CEO and president of Autobot Offroad Philippines, has witnessed a substantial increase in the number of enthusiasts engaging in both glamping and off-roading over the years. His company, once a modest automotive shop in Quezon City, has rapidly expanded, with ten branches across the country and a recent opening in Qatar, where off-roading enjoys similar popularity.

During a brief discussion before a program at the Manila Auto Salon in the SMX Convention Center, Randy expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming appreciation of Autobot’s booth at various auto shows. He acknowledged the support of clients who lent their trucks, in addition to Autobot’s own vehicles on display.

The transformed pickups and SUVs seen on the streets have not only been enhanced by Autobot but also by several other companies that have joined the trend of converting them into rigs.

However, transforming a vehicle into a glamping rig or an off-roader comes with a hefty price tag. Quality materials, often sourced from abroad for their reliability, undergo rigorous testing. While some opt for locally-made components, concerns about their lower quality persist.

For instance, upgrading the springs and coils of a truck can cost a minimum of P100,000. Imported springs alone may account for around P80,000, and the process may involve dismantling parts such as rack and pinion and bushings.

Even Autobot’s ambassador, Lyn Macanas, shared her initial hesitation due to the substantial costs involved in modifying her first of over 15 big trucks, a Toyota MJ. As a construction magnate, Lyn’s journey from humble beginnings to success was highlighted during the event. She acknowledged Randy for transforming her fleet into impressive creations, emphasizing her love for driving substantial vehicles since her earlier days as a truck driver.

Randy proudly selected Lyn Macanas as the company’s ambassador, recognizing her remarkable rags-to-riches story and passion for significant trucks and SUVs. Many of the showcased trucks at the event belonged to her, showcasing her transformation from a truck driver struggling in the past to a successful businesswoman who can now afford to indulge her children’s preferences in vehicles.

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