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During trying times like now, success stories, no matter how small, never fail to cheer up people.  In the automotive industry, the first semester’s unexpected cheerleaders were Morris Garages (MG) and Suzuki Philippines, Inc. (SPI).

            The Brit Dynamic marque and the famous- for- sporty- small cars Japanese brand  bucked the industry’s 51 + percent sales decline caused by the three-month Covid-19 quarantine lockdown, in the process capturing 9th and 5th place, respectively, in the industry’s Top 10 Sales Performers.

            MG thereby relegated Foton Motor PH to 10th place, which resulted in the elimination of Kia (Adventure Cycle PH, Inc.) from the Top 10.

            Although MG’s first half sales total of 1,801 units was not included in the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) report since their application for AVID membership just got approved, it was good enough to lift MG to 9th place in the Top 10 year-to-date (YTD) June 2020. 

            In the same year-ago period, MG posted 1,784 units total sales. Had there been no lockdown from March 16 to end of May this year, MG would have set a growth rate bigger than 17 units from the first sem last year to the first sem this year.

 BREAKING INTO THE TOP 10

            Other than Hyundai, which ranks 4th in sales, MG is the only (would-be) AVID member to break into the Top 10.

            How did MG — a relatively unknown brand that re-entered the Philippine market only two years ago in October 2018 under the aegis of The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCI)  – buck the downward trend?

            Four attractive models on offer – the MG ZS Crossover, MG 5 sedan, MG RX5 SUV and MG 6 Fastback Sedan — with affordable prices ranging from P658,888 to P1,068,000; a rich British racing heritage dating back to 1924; a nationwide network of 24 dealerships with seven more to open in the second half this year; outstanding after-sales complements such as Mobile Garage Service, Online Garage Service, My MG App for easy scheduling and parts inquiries aside from the 5-year warranty or 100,000 km (whichever comes first), one-year free Preventive Maintenance Service (PMS) and 24/7 hotline and emergency service plus, to top it all, zero down payment options and hefty discounts for cash purchases.

2 SPECIAL PROMOS

            MG is offering until the end of September 2020 two special promos: the Back on the Road Promo featuring zero down payment on the (starting price P658,888) MG 5 sedan or a cash discount of P110,000 and the MG Moves Forward with All Front Liners Promo with zero down payment and a 3-month holiday payment scheme on the (starting price P1,058,888) MG RX5 SUV, or a cash discount of P180,000.

            The two other MG models are also available on promo: P18,000 down payment for the best-selling (starting price P818,888) MG ZS crossover, or a cash discount of P100,000; P38,000 down payment for the (starting price P1,068,888) MG6 fastback sedan or a cash discount of P110,000.

            If you notice a lot of 8’s in the pricing of MG vehicles, it’s because the Chinese consider 8 a lucky number.  In 2005, Morris Garages was acquired by China’s SAIC Motor International Co., Ltd. (SMIL) and since September 2016, MG cars have been manufactured in China although design continues to be developed at a design studio in London.

PRECISE PRODUCT PORTFOLIO

            “We appreciate the strong reception and trust that the Philippine automotive market has shown to the MG brand,” Alberto B. Arcilla, president and CEO of TCCI, the official distributor of MG Philippines, said in a statement.

             “Our principals at SMIL and we at The Covenant Car Company, Inc. focused our efforts on a precise product portfolio and positioned our offers to be most beneficial to the local motoring market, and we are glad the objectives were achieved.”

            “This now strengthens our desire to continue our efforts to introduce new models, communicate exciting offers, and to establish a dealer network that will provide an excellent ownership experience that our clients will surely appreciate.

             “We are soon to open new dealers in various locations nationwide as we extend our reach to provide British-bred MG models and a unique service experience. We hope that the support provided by our principals, bank, and media colleagues will continue as we further our plans and objectives.”

            Arcilla concluded:  “It has been a very exciting 20 months of growth for the MG brand in the Philippines.  With the new motoring landscape as a result of the changes in our mobility dynamics and needs, we at MG will be firm in ensuring the safety and security of our MG community of dealer partners, stewards, clients and guests.”

SUZUKI LEAPFROGS FROM 7TH TO 5TH

            Meanwhile, while no one was looking, Suzuki PH, Inc. (SPH)  leapfrogged over Ford and Honda to bag 5th place from 7th in the consolidated Top 10 list of YTD June 2020.

            SPH, a member of both CAMPI and AVID, sold 5,660 units in the first half of this pandemic year to gain entry to the elite Top 5 circle for the first time in the history of both SPI and the industry.

            The Top 5 in the first sem of 2020 are led by Toyota Motor PH Corp. (35,648 units sold) as No. 1, Mitsubishi Motors PH Corp. (15, 133 units) as No. 2, Nissan PH, Inc. (9,708 units) as No. 3, and Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (6,757 units) as No. 4.

            In the same year-ago period, SPH scored total sales of 10,817, which is almost more than twice this year’s sales.  Like the other car companies, SPH sales dipped more than 50 percent in the first sem this year compared to the same year-ago period due to the three-month lockdown.

            The top three Suzuki models so far this year in terms of sales are the Ertiga 7-seater compact MPV, 36 percent of total sales or 2,037 units; the Dzire subcompact sedan, 13 percent or  736 units; and the Carry compact pickup truck, 9 percent or 509 units.

ALL AFFORDABLE

            The top three sellers are all affordable.  The 2020 Ertiga’s price ranges from P743,000 to P993,000; the 2020 Dzire retails starting at P549,000 up to P698,000; and the Carry costs from P509,00 for the base cab and chassis variant to P614,000 for the top-spec utility van.

            At present, SPH sells 11 models: the S-Presso baby crossover hatch, Celerio mini subcompact, Swift subcompact hatchback, XL7 7-seater SUV, Ertiga MPV, Dzire subcompact sedan, Ciaz compact sedan, Jimny All Grip Pro micro SUV, Vitara compact crossover, APV minivan and Carry micro pickup truck.  The S-Presso and the XL7 were launched just before the coronavirus outbreak caused the government to shutdown all businesses.

            SPH does not need to offer zero down payment promos and cash discounts because all the vehicles it sells are extremely affordable. The lowest-costing Suzuki in the Philippines is the P518,000 S-Presso baby crossover and the most expensive is the Jimny All Grip Pro micro SUV at P1,175,000.  SPI has 79 dealerships nationwide to market and service the 11 Suzuki models.

GOING ONLINE

            At the same time, SPH has intensified its presence online in order to easily connect to the market.  SPH has launched its newest website, the Suzuki Online Showroom, and the Online Auto Loan direct link to their bank partners.

            Along with the reopening of dealerships, SPH introduced “New Normal” business operations with the S.M.A.R.T. safety campaign: Sanitize Thoroughly, Maintain Safe Distancing, Adhere Strictly, Reach People Online, and Think Positive.

            S.M.A.R.T. was implemented to ensure the safety of customers in all dealerships.  Just recently, SPH also introduced Shall We Home Test Drive whereby customers can request for their preferred model to be delivered at their home for a test drive.

            Commenting on Suzuki’s leaping to 5th place in the Top 10 List as of YTD June 2020, SPH vice president and general manager for automobile division Keiichi Suzuki said: “We in Suzuki Philippines Incorporated are truly grateful and humbled by the remarkable achievements we have achieved this year.”

A WAY OF LIFE

            “Indeed, this recognition is testament that more and more of our dear Filipinos are embracing the Suzuki Way of Life! and will serve as our inspiration to continue to strive for excellence both through our vehicles and our quality service.

            “Suzuki Philippines Incorporated remains committed to championing the Suzuki Way of Life!  We remain ever optimistic despite the challenges we now face. 

            “The next few months of 2020 give us the opportunity to aspire to reach more goals, new milestones, and be relentless in providing our customers with quality service as we overcome obstacles together as a community.”

BOTTOM LINE

            The keys to the success of MG and SPH are the affordability, attractiveness and online approachability of their product lines.  By making safe, private transportation accessible to budget-conscious families and SMEs, Morris Garages and Suzuki are maxing the opportunities generated by the New Normal.

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