Geely—a major automotive marque that owns 16 other brands (three of which are dedicated electric vehicle brands)—has been known as among China’s largest and most aggressive independent car manufacturers.
It now owns five global R&D centers in Hangzhou and Ningbo in China, Gothenburg in Sweden, Coventry in the United Kingdom, and Frankfurt in Germany, employing over 10,000 science and technology-focused pesonnel.
According to automotive historian and journalist Tony Lewin (author of “AZ of 21st Century Cars”), Geely came into international prominence only in 2006, when it began talks with the British company that built the iconic London taxi. Three years later, Geely was building the TX4 taxi and stayed newsworthy when it announced its bid for Swedish carmaker Volvo. which the parent Ford group had put up for sale.
Those keeping close tabs on automobile history are aware that Geely has made remarkable leaps and bounds in automotive quality and design in such a short time, not just in its motherland, but in the world automotive stage. After a brief but forgettable introduction in the Philippines at the turn of the millennium, Geely returned in 2019, through a distribution partnership and after-sales service agreement with Japanese conglomerate Sojitz Corporation.
The second time’s a charm for Geely, it seems. Right now, the brand is an ongoing lesson on how to break stereotypes, specifically that of a brand with Chinese origins can’t break the iron grip of Japanese, American, European, and Korean brands on the market.
Amidst the successive milestones of Geely Philippines at just in its third year—multiple dealerships opened, acceptance into the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturer of the Philippines, highest monthly sales in July—automotive veteran Froilan Dytianquin, the general manager for vehicle sales and marketing of Sojitz G Auto Philippines Corp, shares his insights as to how and why Geely has been performing so well here.
IM: Did you expect the Geely brand to reach this level so quickly in the country?
FD: When we started the business in the Philippines, we thought that it would really take some time for Geely to be accepted, due to two reasons: 1) It was an unknown brand, and 2) Geely, being a Chinese brand, had a dismal reputation back then due to quality issues.
It is surreal that Geely has now gone up in the industry rankings when there were haters on social media when we launched the brand in 2019. The accomplishments and milestones attained by Geely are, indeed, rewarding.
IM: How would you assess the swift rise of the brand, considering that the market is generally brand conscious?
FD: The rapid success of the brand has been remarkable, thanks to the shift in market trends and buyers’ open mindedness.
Geely came in at just the right time, when we were witnessing the younger car buyer revolution. Younger car buyers are open to new brands such as ours, and as they are the ones mostly digitally engaged. They are able to do their own research and decide on their own. We expect the younger market now doing the “reverse mentoring”, explaining to their elders the advantages of Geely compared to the usual mainstream brands. Due to this, our core models such as Coolray and Okavango have established a strong foothold in the market.
IM: What further achievements would you expect for Geely PH in the coming 2 or 3 years?
FD: Our short-term goal is to achieve more than 10,000 unit sales this year. Despite the challenges of supply experienced in the second quarter, we are optimistic that we can attain this goal.
Then for the mid-term, as mentioned by our President and CEO Yugo Kiyofuji during his inauguration message, the goal is to take Geely in the Philippines to the next level and attain to be one of the top mainstream auto brands. To be able to achieve this, we should introduce vehicles in key segments, and further strengthen the dealer network and provide value-added service to our customers.
IM: Are you eyeing more dealerships for certain regions? If so, what are these?
FD: We have 34 3S (vehicle sales, parts and service) dealerships now and aiming to open 40 in the near future. Engagement with other dealer partners is ongoing for other areas in the country to be able to expand the reach and aftersales service to satisfy more Geely customers.
IM: What are the biggest challenges facing Geely Philippines today?
FD: I guess the biggest challenge now not only for us but for the whole industry is the weak performance of the peso against the US dollar. If the peso continues to weaken, it will definitely affect vehicle prices to the level in which some buyers may just opt to defer buying brand new and instead settle for second hand vehicles.
IM: What should people expect from Geely at the Philippine International Motor Show 2022?
FD: We are truly excited and looking forward to our participation at the PIMS. As this is our first time as a new member of Campi, we will be focusing on our existing models, particularly the Coolray SE, Okavango and Emgrand—but with a twist—and this will be a surprise for PIMS patrons.
IM: In your 30 years in the industry, how would you characterize this current stint with Geely
FD: My stint with Geely has been challenging, rewarding and exciting. Challenging—as a new brand we must really work hard to establish the Geely brand and woo partners to engage with us to expand our network. Moving forward, we need to prove the brand’s worth and value over time, of which some people are still doubting especially for this China-made vehicle. Rewarding—reaping accolades, achievements and milestones for Geely warms the heart, especially if you’re one of the company’s pioneers. Exciting—Geely is very much engaged in technology to make cars even better, safer and pleasurable to drive. Now, Geely is entering an advanced era in automotive technology, preparing a smart architecture for the future of mobility.