TCCCI out; SAIC Motor Ph to take over MG brand by July 2023
Mikko David · May 25, 2023 12:30 PM
Rumors have been circulating since the Manila International Auto Show last April that The Covenant Car Company Inc.(TCCCI), the current official distributor of MG vehicles in the country, will only have until July 2023 to handle the brand.
The brand's presentation in MIAS sounded like a farewell roll call of the top executives of the company who led it through the last five years and a thank you to all its dealer and bank partners and 600-strong sales agent complement. As to why TCCCI management would take on such a somber theme in a motor show was puzzling at that time.
Industry contacts also observed that Atty. Albert Arcilla, the president and CEO of MG Philippines, was absent during the brand's presentation at MIAS. Was it a coincidence?
The fact that the president of SAIC Motor Philippines also delivered a speech at the MG booth and that SAIC has been on a hiring spree to fill in key positions in its Philippine operations further fed suspicions that something was afoot.
"Please allow me to begin by formally announcing that SAIC Motor is officially here in the Philippines," said Zhu Tao, president of SAIC Motor Philippines, in his speech at MIAS. According to industry executives, we spoke to after the motor show, announcing that at the MG booth was already quite telling.
"MG, 100%... 120%"
In the weeks following MIAS, our industry source further confirmed his earlier suspicions about TCCCI's exit. But without corroborating evidence, we held the story until another source would second the observation.
As we delved deeper into the story, however, a Chinese expatriate confirmed that SAIC Motor Philippines would indeed take over the MG brand. He was so confident that he gave his information a "120%" accuracy rating.
We have reached out to executives of TCCCI for their reaction to this development. As of press time, the company is not yet ready to divulge details of impending "changes" in the current setup as it is still "finalizing arrangements." "We'll be sure to keep you posted as soon as we are ready to release our official statement regarding the matter," said a company source.
So, what happens next?
The Covenant Car Company Inc. remains the distributor of Volvo and Chevrolet. And with its executives sharing the load among the brands it handles, it should be business as usual for now.
We have, however, heard mumblings that some current executives of TCCCI have been absorbed by SAIC Motor Philippines.
SAIC itself has bigger plans for the Philippine market and will likely work with the existing MG dealership network for the foreseeable future.
Existing MG customers should not worry as well, as it would seem the handover will be seamless and that SAIC Motor Philippines itself will be staffed with the necessary personnel to ensure continuity in the brand's operations.
But for new customers, there now lies an opportunity for SAIC Motor Philippines to bring the MG brand's Battery EV offerings, such as the MG ZS EV and the award-winning MG4 EV, to the market. With SAIC targetting one million exports in 2023, the Philippines is poised to contribute healthily to this objective now that the mother company will handle the brand's operations.
SAIC, or Shanghai Automobile Industry Corporation, is the largest of the four state-owned car companies in China. It has some familiar brands under its fold: Maxus, MG, Volkswagen, General Motors, SAIC-GM-Wuling, SAIC-IVECO Hongyan and Sunwin. Could this also be the start of SAIC bringing in more brands that do not have a presence yet in the country? We will soon find out.
Do you think SAIC itself will do a better job selling MG cars over having a local distributor?
With an automotive career spanning 27 years as a former touring car racer turned automotive journalist and photographer, Mikko also handled marketing and PR for two major Japanese car brands before finding peace and purpose in sharing his views about cars, driving, and mobility.