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Upward tra-Jetour-y


Talk Box

The Chinese automaker promises new models, supply, and support for the overseas market — including the Philippines

VERILY, it was a coming-out party for Jetour — particularly in the case of country distributor Jetour Auto Philippines, Inc. (JAPI), who flew its executives, bank guests, members of the media, and content creators to Shanghai for the Chinese automaker’s Shanghai Auto Show appearance.

The biennial mobility show at the sprawling National Exhibition and Convention Center draws a million visitors on average, and is a perfect platform for brands and companies to highlight their portfolio — as well as to outline their values, virtues, and vision.

Jetour executives certainly seized the opportunity to go back to fundamentals and do some grounding for the brand — even as the company already notched 700,000 units in sales over just 55 months. This is surely an impressive feat for what used to be merely a model line of SUVs tucked under the wing of Chery Holdings, one of the largest auto brands in China.

And as everyone knows, that country can move in big ways.

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), the country exported 3.11 million vehicles in 2022, up 54% year-on-year. It surpassed Germany’s total figure for the first time, and now takes its place as the world’s second largest exporter of automobiles next to Japan.

As for Jetour, it started venturing beyond China’s borders in 2019, and today has established “over 400 sales and service locations in more than 35 countries and regions across the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, Asia-Pacific, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).” The company claimed it is the “SUV brand with the most overseas sales, and (is) the second fastest-growing auto exporter in China.”

Following the company’s program at the auto show, several members of the media, including this writer, sat down with Jetour Auto Vice-General Manager Ke Chuandeng, Chery Commercial Vehicle International Marketing Company Deputy General Manager Bart Wang, and JAPI Managing Director Miguelito Jose for a short interview session.

Despite Jetour being a relative newcomer in the pantheon of auto brands, Mr. Chuandeng said that the marque has enjoyed success — due in no small part to its being part of the Chery group. “We operate independently, but we use the same technology platform. Chery has been around for 25 years, and we have a very solid technical foundation. Even if Jetour is a new brand, we use the same supply system and the same technical system.”

The brand also leverages the global popularity of automobiles coming from the country. “That gives Jetour a good opportunity outside of China. That is a good foundation, because if Chinese brands have a good reputation in the international market, that also benefits Jetour. We will apply what we did in China to the (global market)… The Chinese market is a tough market, so if a brand can survive in China, that means it has competitiveness,” asserted Mr. Chuandeng.

Joined Mr. Jose, “Chinese brands entered in the Philippines about 10 years ago. In five years, we saw the big difference, with two or three brands able to (succeed) in our country. When we introduced Jetour, we were amazed by the acceptance of the public.”

Part of the messaging Jetour wants to convey is comprised of qualities beyond the spec sheet of its vehicles — the company’s Travel+ concept. Explained Mr. Chuandeng, “If we talk only about cars, there’s no big difference. Quality, no problem. Specification, no problem. We have to create our own differentiators in our promotions, our relationship with users… We want people to think about Jetour. We want to create this image that our key competitiveness is Travel+.”

But what is “Travel+” anyway? Specifically, what does the plus sign denote? “Plus has two meanings,” began the executive. “First, in Chinese it means ‘home.’ So, in China, we promote the idea of ‘travel home,’ a mobile home that’s safe, intelligent, and comfortable… Secondly, plus means everything else — platform, product, benefits.”

In China, Jetour has rolled out a slew of benefits for its vehicle owners such as discounts on hotel stays and restaurant tabs. “In the international market, there are infinite possibilities for the Travel+ concept,” declared Mr. Chuandeng, who added that they will look at providing similar values for Filipino customers. “So, even if Chery and Jetour are from the same group, we don’t compete with each other. We only focus on the Travel+ segmentation.”

Jetour is also embracing its reputation as a crossover specialist, as it maintains that SUVs are more suitable for, yes, travel. According to Mr. Chuandeng, the X70, X70 Plus, and X90 are geared for “family travel on urban roads;” the Dashing is “not only for families but especially for young people;” and the just-launched T2 boasts “necessary off-road performance” for adventures off the beaten path.

Long before JAPI officially launched the Jetour brand in the country last week via the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS), it had started rolling out a social media campaign to tease its vehicles. Jetour started making waves.

“In a month’s time after we started promoting it, we saw the market accept the style, the technology, and the design,” narrated Mr. Jose. “The Dashing, for example, has been accepted by the younger generation, young professionals. X70 inquiries have also has been encouraging, as the public sees the price point as an advantage.”

One of the prevailing concerns in the auto industry is the lack of actual units, brought about by an ongoing (though improving) semiconductor and parts shortage. In many cases, this is leading to a dearth of inventory and a wait list for customers. “Velocity” asked if Jetour can assure the supply to fuel its growth trajectory in the Philippines (at the moment, 13 dealerships are awaiting construction/completion).

“There’s no doubt about the supply,” replied Mr. Chuandeng. “That is our main competitiveness.

We have more than 10 production bases in China in different cities, so we have enough capacity. We also update our factory technology. We have the best factories in the world: One minute, one car. We have also updated our production line capability.” He further boasted that Jetour has a “black factory,” meaning they don’t need illumination because robots are mainly conscripted for work in the assembly line.

As for spare parts, Jetour is said to have a “special section” that produces these. “We have a complete supply,” asserted the official. And because of China’s proximity to the Philippines, vehicles can be shipped in as little as three days.

By the end of the year, Jetour expects to have sold 2,000 vehicles here, and that’s where the expertise and girth of JAPI’s principals will come into play. The distributorship is backed by established major players in the local auto industry: the Gateway Group and the AutoSpeedyGo Group.

The Gateway Group was founded in 2004 by the Goho family, and is the largest dealer group in the Philippines. It has a considerable portfolio of established auto brands under its fold, namely (in alphabetical order): BMW, Changan, Chevrolet, Chery, Foton, Fuso, GAC, Geely, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Maxus, Mitsubishi, MG, Nissan, Peugeot, Subaru, Suzuki, Volkswagen, and Volvo. Gateway operates in 53 major cities and provinces in the country.

For its part, AutoSpeedyGo Group was co-founded in 2016 by Vincent Licup, who has 30 years of experience in the automotive dealership business. AutoSpeedyGo has 14 establishments across six global brands, including Chery, Chevrolet, Foton, Geely, MG, and Nissan — located in the northern part of the National Capital Region and two major municipalities of Bulacan and Pasig City. JAPI’s management team is headed by its President Yves Licup, Vice-President Michael Goho, Mr. Jose, and Marketing Director May De Los Santos.

Perhaps cognizant of the fact that Jetour is a newer name, JAPI is assuring its customers by confidently extending warranties on its vehicles. The units are backed up with a six-year general warranty with unlimited mileage, and a 10-year engine warranty.

Jetour promises to roll out new models every six months, and by all indications, these units will more quickly be brought into the Philippine market. Of note, Jetour officials are declaring that, yes, electric vehicles are coming sooner than later.

“There is no doubt that the EV is the future, and Chinese EVs will (dominate) the world,” stated Mr. Wang. “Last year, in the Chinese market, (new energy or electrified vehicles) comprised 32% of total sales. Chinese companies sold 1.2 million units to the global market. This year, including Jetour, we are expecting to sell 2.5 million new energy cars.”

Mr. Chuandeng noted the more favorable conditions in the Philippines with regard to electric vehicle importation tariff, sales, and infrastructure, and expressed pleasure over the interest in the Jetour Ice Cream — a rebadged Chery battery electric vehicle priced at P699,000. He promised to bring in a hybrid version of the Dashing, and committed to offer three powertrains (internal combustion engine, hybrid electric, and battery electric), for every model the brand will launch by January.

JAPI reported that, at the MIAS, around 70 Jetour bookings — a majority for the Dashing — were recorded. This again is another metric that perhaps shows a promising future for the brand now set to wage war in an ever-growing automotive arena in the Philippines.