Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo is best known in the Philippine automotive industry as the game-changer who steered Hyundai to No. 3 rank in the Top 10 Sales Performers list from 2010 to 2019. It was an admirable feat, considering that no non-Japanese brand had ever made it to the Top 3 honor roll before.

Now, however, Agudo is tackling a new, more formidable challenge: to bring the Chinese brand, Changan “closer to the homes and hearts of the Filipino,” as she describes her new role as the president and CEO of Changan Motor PH, Inc. (CMPI).

In an online interview, when asked how and what made her decide to take on the presidency of CMPI, Agudo replied that her encounter with Changan was “a predestined relationship.”

“I am a natural-born entrepreneur with an instinct for business opportunities,” Agudo, who heads the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) said. “Probably it is for this same reason that I always get various business propositions from different organizations. However, my encounter with Changan was a lot different. I believe fate had a hand in it. I did not look for it. It found me.”

“The executives of Changan International Corp. (CIC) invited me to go to China so that I could make an informed decision about distributing Changan in the Philippines. As an investor and a customer, I had to see for myself if their products meet my standards.”

WEALTH OF TRADITION. Visiting the Changan headquarters in Chongquing, China to experience the brand first hand, Agudo claims she got to know Changan’s wealth of tradition as a business. “Changan is a brand with an established history. It is No. 2 among China’s BIG 4 auto manufacturers, boasting over 150 years of manufacturing excellence and 36 years of experience in auto manufacturing. Present in over 40 countries particularly in South America and the United Arab Emirates, in 2021, global sales of Changan hit 1.75 million units.”

Aside from its history, Agudo was impressed by Changan’s product lineup, research and development facilities, and state-of-the-art manufacturing and assembly plants. She tested the quality of their products by doing test drives at their Comprehensive Test Field in Chongquing, one of the best and most accurate in Asia.

Agudo: Changan was “a predestined relationship.”

Agudo also experienced the culture of the people behind the brand: “Their lifestyle is fast-paced and they have a distinct taste and high standards for the items that they consume.”

In short, the trip to China was an “a-ha” moment for her. Agudo concluded that Changan “is a strong and promising brand right in front of me – a brand that I totally believe in.”

5 KEY SEGMENTS. Agudo and her team formally launched the Changan brand online on November 11, 2020 and introduced the first 5 best models which strategically covered these key segments: the subcompact sedan Changan Alsvin, the subcompact SUV CS35 Plus, the award-winning subcompact SUV CS575, and the full-sized, 7-seater CS595 SUV.

CMPI opened 2022 by launching the CS35 Plus, which Agudo claims is ahead of its time in fashionable styling, comfort and smart convenience, performance (1.4GL TGDI engine with 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission and 160 hp max output,) and safety with its “Safe-Tech” system. The new CS35 Plus has 3 variants with introductory prices ranging from P898,000 to P969,000 to P999,000.

Changan’s Vital 5 program — consisting of the 5-year, 150,000km mileage warranty, Changan Pacesetter roadside assistance and towing service, Changan’s Fastlane 60-minute service guarantee with free PMS labor for the first year or first 20,000km (whichever comes first), Changan Veloservice where you can book your service appointments online, and quick and efficient assistance from CAIA, Changan’s A1 Chatbot — is designed to keep your vehicle in top shape, Agudo says. T

To date, CMPI has 18 Changan dealerships nationwide, with more to be opened this year.

GREENEST VEHICLE. So far, Changan is the only Chinese brand offering a fully electric vehicle (EV) in the country. Not only is the Eado EV 460, hailed as China’s “greenest vehicle,” currently the lowest-priced, fully electric vehicle in the PH, under the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) its cruising range of 430-550 km while going at 60 km/hour surpasses same-class EVs that average a driving range of 300 km under the same driving conditions.

Moreover, the EADO EV 460’s lithium ion battery has a capacity of 52.56, power output of 100, voltage of 351 and yields max power of 136 ps and max torque of 255 Nm, Agudo says. “You only need 30 minutes to do a fast-charge (30-80 percent),” Agudo points out. Since it takes 8 hours to fully charge the EADO EV 460, you can plug it in overnight without worrying about the next day’s drive.

Summing up, Agudo declares: “Let the brand write its story. I have confidence oozing through my veins. The entire Changan team will work hard to give the public the best: a change in future-forward mobility that is uniquely Changan.”

IN MAIN PHOTO: MA. Fe Perez-Agudo at the launch of the CS35 Plus