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For newcomer Sojitz G Auto Philippines (SGAP), the official importer and distributor of the Geely brand of vehicles in the Philippines, its first 18 months in the business has been extraordinary. 

From just the Coolray subcompact crossover SUV to offer in September 2020, the brand now sells two more: the Azkarra compact crossover SUV and the seven-seater crossover SUV.

But what’s more remarkable was despite having only one dealership (North Edsa), crippled domestic auto sales—highlighted by the nearly zero sales from mid-March to mid-May due to Luzon-wide lockdown that forced the temporary closure of dealerships, Geely’s Coolray and later, the Azkarra, became top-sellers for months, enabling the SGAP to close 2020 with 2,156 units sold.

“SGAP being just over a year old managing the Geely brand here performed pretty good last year in spite of the pandemic. Having to rely initially on the Coolray model during the first year of operations, the model was well received by the market in the sub-compact SUV segment, earning continuously positive reviews both from customers and the media. We believe our total sales last year will be enough to earn us at least a spot among the top 10 passenger vehicles which includes cars, SUVs, and MPVs,” said Froilan Dytianquin, SGAP GM for Sales and Marketing, referring to the combined reports of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines (Campi) and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID),”

Right timing

Dytianquin attributed Geely’s success in the Philippines to right timing and attractive product offering adding that Chinese automobile brands, especially Geely, have progressed in both quality and design in the past years. “The global auto manufacturing is marked by fierce competition and a growing trend in information and smart technologies. Geely made sure it has all the resources to successfully compete with more established brands in terms of quality and here in the Philippines, a reliable after sales support.”

This is why SGAP stayed the course despite the pandemic stalling the company’s expansion plans in 2020. “With expansion plans stalled by the lockdown imposed in the second quarter of last year, Geely was still able to complement its maiden outlet in North Edsa with six more namely, Quezon Avenue, Cagayan de Oro, Lipa, Zamboanga, General Santos and Imus in Cavite. We look forward to the opening of  eight more in the first half of 2021 and 13 more in the second semester, for a total of 28 outlets by the end of this year,” informed Dytianquin.

He is confident that with a growing network of dealerships around the country, SGAP would be able to introduce the Geely brand to more Filipino buyers. “Geely’s brand success has been focused around putting market demand and customer experience at the forefront of every process, from design to engineering to the purchasing and the after sales experience. With our current lineup of crossover SUVs, Filipino buyers appreciate the function, utility, visibility, the technology and the safety features included, and of course, the price point, which has become even more important during these times.”

Geely’s current offerings are priced from P978,000 (the Coolray 1.5 Comfort Turbo) to P1.328 million (Okavango 1.5 AT Urban) and P1.598 million for the Azkarra Luxury, which is a hybrid crossover and an all-wheel drive.

Improved ranking

With all these offerings plus the planned opening of new dealer outlets in major areas, SGAP is confident it will further improve on its ranking and market share. “We count on the strength of our product line up like the Coolray and Okavango in their respective segments so expect us to be aggressive in promoting these core models. Around 95 percent of our sales projection for 2021 will be generated by these models.”

And for the new model coming in 2021? “We will have to keep the market in suspense,” Dytianquin said.

The Geely PH website offers a silhouette of three more models labeled as “Coming Soon”.

He added that while new vehicle demand will still grow in 2021—hopefully around 25 percent and reach around at least 300,000 units—despite the ongoing threat of the pandemic and with mass inoculations still expected towards the second half of the year, Dytianquin hopes that the recent government announcement of safeguard policy for locally produced models would not significantly stall the growth momentum the local auto industry gravely needs this year.

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