With MG out of the picture, expect TCCCI to focus on Chevrolet

Last May 29, I wrote on the Visor mobility website that The Covenant Car Company Inc. was releasing a statement about its imminent (but silent) parting of ways with MG, one of the two car brands in its stable. Back then, the worst-kept secret in the industry was that the Chinese company SAIC Motor was poised to take over the brand, and industry observers were wondering just when TCCCI was going to release an official statement.

The following week, on June 8, I met the highest-ranking executives of TCCCI, president Albert Arcilla and executive vice president Lyn Buena, for lunch. I went to the appointment expecting to bring home a scoop; instead, I had a good time recalling fond memories with a couple of dear friends in the industry. In other words, there was no story to be written. In fact, there was no formal announcement to be revealed.

Tomorrow, July 20, TCCCI’s five-year contract with SAIC for its MG stewardship will be over. Obviously, the agreement will not be renewed. So, yes, the long-running rumor about SAIC entering our market to handle the MG brand is indeed true. But we have to qualify that communiqué: There is nothing negative about it. Sad, definitely, but nothing out of the ordinary. Just the end of a contract. Nothing more, nothing less.

Would TCCCI have wanted to continue handling the brand? Sure, why not? It was a successful partnership however which way you look at it. The distributor managed to sell 5,085 units in the first year, and moved a record 8,858 units in 2022. Not bad. So good that SAIC now wants to take full control of the reins. Can SAIC duplicate the success? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows?

All I know is that having a local partner to navigate the tricky business territory of this country will always be an advantage. Then again, maybe the Chinese know something we don’t when it comes to selling cars.

Now, what happens to TCCCI?

As I said in the opening paragraph, TCCCI has another car brand aside from MG, and that’s the American marque of Chevrolet. Last week, the firm had a celebration of sorts when it held a mall display for the all-new Chevrolet Trax. I don’t know about my colleagues, but I sensed a genuinely happy mood among the TCCCI officers. As if they had finally let go of their other baby, and there were seemingly no ill feelings there.

Buena, who lovingly spoke of the MG brand like a mother talking about her child, recalled to me the hardships of nurturing a new (and unproven) brand. I think they surprised even themselves. The global MG organization gave TCCCI the highly coveted Five Star Award in 2019. This is the expertise that SAIC is relinquishing in ending its partnership with TCCCI.

But maybe, all of this has been a blessing in disguise. Having MG gave TCCCI something fruitful to do in the last five years. If you remember, General Motors gave up its manufacturing facility in Rayong, Thailand, in February 2020. That was where we used to source the Trailblazer and the Colorado. To make matters worse, the entire world found itself in a deadly pandemic. Perhaps without MG to help TCCCI tide things over, the company wouldn’t even be here to market new crossovers, SUVs and even sports cars.

Maybe TCCCI will shop around for a new Chinese brand. And even if it doesn’t, Chevrolet should be a handful to keep it very busy.

FILL YOUR TANK: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

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