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Geely PH starts year with guns blazing at the subcompact sedan market

Geely PH starts year with guns blazing at the subcompact sedan market

Tessa R. Salazar

Oh, to be young yet ambitious. In these times when things can—and do—happen so fast, aiming high so early isn’t that foolhardy. It’s the mindset that Chinese auto marque Geely has adopted in the Philippines. Entering the Philippine market in 2019, Geely Philippines isn’t even three years old, yet it already targets an additional 13 dealerships within the year to add on to its current 27.

That announcement, however, was even just an aside, because the main event that Feb. 25 was the official introduction of the Emgrand subcompact sedan—Geely’s first sedan in the country and a direct challenge to the likes of segment bestsellers Toyota Vios and Nissan Almera. Geely’s Philippine distributor Sojitz G Auto Philippines Corp (SGAP) targets 3,000 units of the Emgrand sold in its debut year.

Considering that the country looks well on its way to finally hurdling the pandemic, SGAP seeks to capture “a considerable share of the subcompact segment given the expected demand this year,” according to a statement sent to this writer on March 1.

SGAP is aware of the other global factors that may affect auto sales, as it said that increasing fuel prices and the Ukraine crisis are “indeed risks that may affect the total industry demand.”

It added: “Hopefully the risks can be mitigated by other opportunities as well as our expanding dealership network.”

On paper, the Emgrand itself does what it can to address rising fuel costs. Its 1.5-liter Dual Continuous Variable Valve Timing normally aspirated engine that delivers 102 horsepower and 142 Nm of torque, combined with an 8-speed continuous variable transmission (CVT), and an aerodynamic design for a low drag coefficient of 0.27, helps the vehicle achieve a factory-rated 16.13km/liter fuel consumption (combined city and highway). Furthermore, the engine itself is lightweight due to its all-aluminum alloy cylinder block, and is supported by a timing chain for maintenance-free and longer life span.

SGAP has pinned high hopes on the Emgrand, to the extent that there’s a possibility that it could outsell its current bestseller Coolray subcompact SUV, given also that the subcompact sedan segment has a larger market compared to subcompact SUVs.

The Emgrand’s “grand entrance” in the country is highlighted by its one-two punch of pricing and value for money. SGAP president and CEO Yosuke Nishi explained that the Emgrand “packs in enough features you would normally expect from bigger cars, minus their expensive price.”

Emgrand’s entry signals Geely’s initial foray into the country’s largest automotive segment, coming after a series of successful introductions of the Coolray, Azkarra and the 7-seater Okavango. Despite competing with just a three-model lineup, Geely in the Philippines nearly tripled its sales in 2021 with 6,104 units sold, from just 2,158 units in 2020. Based on Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc (Campi) and Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (Avid) reports, Geely Philippines has maintained the 9th spot in total industry sales, but has increased its overall market share to 2.1 percent—more than double the previous year’s 0.9-percent share.

The Philippines is the first overseas market to have the Emgrand after debuting in China last year. SGAP said that this is a testament to Geely’s high confidence in the Philippine market, in the light of its rapid sales growth.

4 percent share for starters

According to Froilan Dytianquin, SGAP general manager for Sales and Marketing, the subcompact sedan market will remain the largest segment in the local industry. “Last year, around 66,000 subcompact sedans were sold. The forecast this year is 74,000. We set the Emgrand market share to around 4 percent or 3,000 units,” he said.

The Emgrand debuts in the Philippines in its fourth generation. The first Emgrand was launched in 2009, becoming a bestselling sedan in China for 9 consecutive years, with cumulative sales of more than 3.38 million units.

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The new Emgrand adopts the B-segment Modular Architecture (BMA) developed within the Geely Auto Group. This platform was also used for the Coolray and was designed to exceed the criteria for any 5-star NCAP safety ratings. With BMA’s over 5-million km test mileage, higher reliability and durability is expected from Emgrand. BMA also enables Emgrand to achieve bigger space with its wide body, better riding comfort, and better control and stability.

The Emgrand is assembled in Geely’s new and advanced 5G smart factory Changxing factory in China. The sedan boasts of the Intelligent Scene Air-conditioning System which deodorizes and freshens the circulating air. The aircon is also equipped with a CN95 filter.

Apart from the active and passive safety features such as ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control, Hill Hold Control, Electric Parking Brake with Autohold, Six Airbags (Premium), the Emgrand features 3 ultra-sonic reversing radars and high definition wide angle reverse camera (Premium), Real-time Temperature and Pressure Tire Monitoring System and now a Rear Intelligent Monitoring System.

The Emgrand (Premium) supports a 12.3-inch digital meter which has a 3D interface and high-definition display that supports various driving information. An 8-inch HD central screen is also standard to support entertainment and control of functions of the car such as shifting driving modes (Eco, Comfort or Sport), opening, and closing of the sunroof (Premium) and accessing other features of the aircon.

The new Emgrand comes in six colors: Proud Teal, Dark Blue, Gold, Gray, Red, and White. SRPs of the Emgrand start at P798,000 for the Comfort variant, to P908,000 for the Premium. Both come with a 5-year warranty or 150,000 kilometers, whichever comes first.

For a limited time, customers who purchase the Emgrand will automatically get a P50,000 discount and free one-year periodic maintenance service inclusive of parts, oil and labor. Those who will reserve or purchase an Emgrand until May 31, 2022, automatically get raffle entries for a chance to be among the three recipients of a P250,000 savings or rebate.