SAIC Motor PHL’s Felix Jiang reveals projections and possibilities

Interview by Kap Maceda Aguila

WHEN SAIC MOTOR PHILIPPINES (SMP) took the reins of MG Philippines from The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI) last year, the new group wasted no time in releasing model after model — including electric vehicles — from the China-headquartered brand with a British heritage. Apart from the importation, distribution, and after-sales operations of MG, SMP now manages the dealership network in the country — envisioned to grow to 60 locations by 2025.

On the sidelines of the recent launch of the MG 3 hatchback and MG G50 Plus MPV, “Velocity” spoke exclusively to SMP President Felix Jiang about where the brand is perceived to be, and what the aspirations for it are. Surprisingly, Mr. Jiang admitted that SMP basically can choose to bring in models from the considerable portfolio of SAIC Motor, regardless of the brand, and have them rebranded into MG. Here are excerpts from our interview.

VELOCITY: We see, at least based on the latest CAMPI figures, that MG is doing pretty well as you sold almost 2,500 vehicles year to date this April (as of May, the figure is 3,207 units). Are you happy with that number? Do you think that there are segments that you can probably realize more growth in?

FELIX JIANG: Yes, actually, based on our analysis, the product coverage of our MG range now is only like 31% of the total market. So, with the new introduction of our MG 3 and the MG G50 Plus, I think we can get to 55%-plus market coverage. We expect more sales volume. (With regard to) the first four months, our performance is actually much better compared to last year. We are expecting more now that we have the two new models, and as the market develops in the second half.

What have been the best-sellers for MG Philippines?

Currently, the biggest nameplate is still the ZS SUV and also MG 5. (Aside from these), now, we’re seeing more and more acceptance of the new models like MG One and our EV (electric vehicle) MG 4.

The MG 3 of course will effectively be your most affordable model, right? Does it follow that you expect the most in terms of sales volume?

Yes, the MG 3 will be our cheapest model, but we expect both it and the G50 Plus to be volume drivers of the brand.

MG Philippines is also known for its electric offerings, notably the Cyberster and the MG 4. How are they doing in terms of sales and what are the projections? How many EV units has MG sold? What is its share of total sales? Are you looking at maybe growing that number or that percentage in terms of pure electric offerings?

We’ve sold until May, more than 150 EVs. It accounts for, more or less, 6% of the total sales volume of MG. Based on that figure, we are actually expecting a little bit more. MG is really one of the biggest EV players globally, especially in developed countries like the US, UK, Australia and in Europe. I think this is definitely what we are competent in (and should) drive more volume. I think in the Philippines, it will still take a little bit of time to get more people to accept electric vehicles, but I think we are already under way and will definitely deliver more volume of pure EV products. And between the pure EVs and ICE (internal combustion engine)-powered vehicles, we are now introducing hybrid products. Plug-in hybrids will also come in very soon. So I think we will have the full lineup of our technology tree.

Significantly, of course, we know that the G50 Plus used to have a Maxus badge. And we know also that Maxus is owned by SAIC. Can MG Philippines now formally access the different brands of SAIC and then maybe rebadge them?

Actually, MG Philippines is taking care of all the SAIC products, including Maxus and Roewe. Roewe products have already been introduced to the Philippine market, including the RX5 and the MG 5. So, the global logic of the branding in SAIC Motor is to highlight the MG brand everywhere. Like in Europe, we are already consolidating all the products into the MG brand.

Okay, so you’re still looking for us to grow the portfolio SAIC Motor in the Philippines?

Yes, yes.