Bidding for PNP patrol vehicles questioned over Indian car brand

Mahindra wins early bid for 560 units
by Vernon B. Sarne | Nov 6, 2014
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Mahindra Bolero

The Philippine National Police is purchasing a lot of vehicles this year so that our valiant cops can serve us better. The total number of said vehicles apparently includes 560 units already awarded to a supplier earlier this year, and another 1,021 units subject to a new round of bidding.

The PNP--already in hot water over lifestyle checks involving its high-ranking officials--must now face a new set of inquiries pertaining to the acquisition of the above-mentioned patrol vehicles. A particular bone of contention is the sudden preference of the police force for the Indian automaker Mahindra, which is said to have won the bid for the first 560 vehicles. Mahindra reportedly secured the contract after agreeing to a per-unit price of P895,000.

In July, we reported that Mahindra was indeed entering the Philippine market. At the time, we wrote: "We also got word from another source that this early, the local Mahindra distributor is already in talks with the Philippine National Police to make Mahindra vehicles part of the latter's fleet."

The Indian vehicle company will be brought in by the group of Jose "Pepito" Alvarez, which already has BMW, Kia and Peugeot in its stable.

Now, some quarters are questioning the choice of Mahindra to supply PNP with new patrol vehicles. One of the most vocal critics is TV news personality Ted Failon, who wonders why the law-enforcement body would select an untested vehicle brand over, say, Toyota. Speaking of which, Toyota has provided PNP with vehicles in the past, but is now likely to lose the current bidding as the contracts may all go to Mahindra, a source revealed to TopGear.com.ph.

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Here's the interesting part. An officer of the Toyota dealer involved in the PNP bidding shares the reason given to them by the PNP as to why the Japanese carmaker lost the bid: "They say our vehicles didn't meet the torque requirement of the PNP fleet department, and that the competition has better figures in this aspect."

That competition appears to be Mahindra, which, curiously, won the bidding even if there's an explicit stipulation that says in order for a vehicle model to qualify as a PNP fleet unit, it must have been in operation on Philippine roads for a certain number of years. The local Mahindra distributor--in spite of the fact that it hasn't launched the Indian brand yet--allegedly circumvented this by presenting examples of Mahindra vehicles used in the provinces.

Obviously, the questions being asked are: How could the fleet vehicle contract be awarded to a company that hasn't formally and publicly been inaugurated yet? Even assuming that the Mahindra vehicles are significantly cheaper, wouldn't the PNP lose in the long run if these vehicles turned out to be inferior in quality?

To be fair to PNP, we read a story that the police force would conduct a three-day test of these Mahindra vehicles supposedly to determine their durability and reliability. Then again, we're not sure a vehicle's longevity can be truly ascertained after three days of driving.

It is still unclear which particular Mahindra model will serve as a PNP fleet vehicle. We know that the distributor will be initially bringing in the Bolero SUV and the Xylo MPV.

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When we asked a colleague who had recently visited Mahindra's manufacturing facility in India, he said: "They wouldn't confirm the model (for the PNP fleet) yet. But it will most likely be the Bolero, which will be called the Enforcer here. And it has many variants, from cab-only to pickup to SUV, with 4x2 and 4x4 options. But I understand that the PNP has placed an order for 4x2 units only."

Are you okay with the PNP picking Mahindra to be its patrol-fleet supplier, or do you smell something fishy? Take our poll.

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