Another Chinese brand resurfaces in the Philippines

15 years ago, a large number of Chinese car brands entered the Philippine market. Unfortunately, at that time, Chinese car brands were not ready to challenge the dominance of Japanese, American and European brands. The quality and the service were non-existent for the models coming from Beijing and therefore, the eventual flop.

Yet Chinese automakers have continued and developed their brands, going so far as to buy up failing European auto brands, if only to acquire the technology, people and experience of these older automakers.

Fast forward to today and we see a number of successful Chinese models suddenly challenging the more established Japanese and Western badges. Geely, Chery, MG, and Foton are four of the most popular Chinese badges that have successfully penetrated Filipino homes in terms of car choices.

Two of those badges, Chery and MG, started on very stormy ground, with Chery losing due to poor distribution management before regaining its name when United Asia Automotive Group Inc. took over. MG also had its share of distress when its first distributor began a truly ignorant marketing strategy, but eventually gained traction when The Covenant Car Company Inc. took over.

Now another Chinese car brand that was here 15 years ago but disappeared for no apparent reason is trying to come back.

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Luxuriant Automotive Group is the new distributor of Great Wall Motor in the Philippines. I remember Great Wall Motor because we were invited to their first foray into the Philippine market in the late 2000s.

I remember it very well because the model they showed us at the time was interesting — it was the Coolbear — a boxy SUV. I think that was back when SUVs were called crossovers.

The other day, we were invited by good friend Tonette Lee to meet with Luxuriant President Ruben Tan and Great Wall President Lillian Cui to announce the resurgence of the Chinese brand in the country.

It was a nice lunch with some auto scribe friends in Torch, Connecticut, where we were shown the first model the Great Wall plans to introduce to Manila, the Haval, which has an interesting design with hints of design trends American and Japanese. But it has a pretty intriguing Chinese take for an SUV.

Tan said they will focus on two top-selling models in the Philippines, including SUVs and pickup trucks, as the first vehicle to be sold in the country.

Great Wall is one of the largest, if not the largest, car manufacturer/assembler in China, and already has a larger footprint in Asia and Africa, and aggressive expansion into the US, Australia and Europe .

With the success of other Chinese car brands in the Philippines, I wonder what the Great Wall will do in our market. We are going to watch.

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