Last July 20, The Covenant Car Company Inc. (TCCCI) officially lost distributorship rights to MG, now under SAIC Motor Philippines. Many industry observers sympathized with TCCCI at the time, feeling that the Filipino firm got the short end of the stick after being left out in what should have been a new contract for MG.
To be fair with China’s SAIC Motor, it didn’t do anything illegal or unreasonable. It had every right to do what it wanted to with its car brand. The contract ended. C’est la vie. That, in other words, is life.
And then, earlier this month, TCCCI magnanimously even helped SAIC to launch its first pair of electric cars. It professionally extended its marketing assistance to its former partner. Now, I don’t know the terms of this deal, but TCCCI proved that it had no grudge against SAIC. In fact, as I write this, “the MG transition or marketing assistance is still ongoing,” according to a TCCCI executive.
On Monday, the industry learned why TCCCI was being big-hearted in this sad episode. Turns out that it will have a new car brand to replace MG in its stable (and to partner Chevrolet). The company announced that it is now the exclusive distributor of South Korea’s KG Mobility, formerly named SsangYong and previously sold here by Bermaz Auto when it was owned by India’s Mahindra.
Now, this is not a future project—it is now official and in effect. As in the retail sales will commence this month. At launch, five models are on offer: the Tivoli, the Tivoli Grand, the Torres, the Rexton, and the Musso Grand.
The last SsangYong distributor failed to make the brand fly. Maybe funding was the issue. Or maybe our market was largely unfamiliar with the brand (some still think it’s Chinese). Maybe the pricing was exorbitant. Or maybe locating the main showroom in Santa Rosa was a sure recipe for a flop.
But at least inaccessibility will be resolved from the get-go: TCCCI says the KG Mobility dealer network is “expected to rise to 12 independent dealer-partners by the end of 2024.” We’ll see.
Too early to say if TCCCI can duplicate its past success—or even half of it—with MG. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that it is never wise to bet against a team under which the rug has been pulled.
That and the advantage of not having to sell a Chinese brand at a time when customers are beginning to doubt the Chinese’s trustworthiness.
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FILL YOUR TANK: “Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be theirs.” (Isaiah 61:7)