Story by Ronald de los Reyes / Photos by Foton Philippines
THE seismically active undersea region and extinct volcanic ridge in the Philippine Sea approximately 250 kilometers east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela, known as the “Benham Rise” may be in hot waters since President Duterte demanded that all foreign research in the area be put to a halt but for Beijing-based Foton International Group, however, now is their moment to further even elevate to greater heights after a stellar 2017 performance.
Executive Vice President Ma Rentao was beaming with hope and enthusiasm in front of hundreds during the 2018 Dealer’s Appreciation Night held recently at Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City hosted by United Asia Automotive Group Inc. (UAAGI), the automotive group’s local counterpart.
With UAAGI’s impressive stint of making it to the Top 11 rank among all local car companies, Rentao even divulged their more notable achievement of selling 600,000 units worldwide last year. Of the number, 89 percent were sold in their motherland, while 11 of its share were exported—thus maintaining its hold on a pedestal as the No.1 manufacturer and seller of Chinese commercial vehicles.
“We will hold firm to the operating principles of ‘focus on the core market, create business value and achieve progressive growth,’” Rentao exclaimed.
“Southeast Asia is the core area of Foton’s overseas business and accounts for 50 percent of overseas sales,” he added.
According to them, with a growing Philippine economy, they believe the automotive market will increase faster.
“In 2018 the Foton Group will continue to give all-out support to the Philippine market for our customers by providing more professional service, efficient spare-parts supply, high-quality products and OTD system application.”
UAAGI President Rommel Sytin, meanwhile, was elated with his homegrown stalwarts.
“Foton Philippines registered an 18.5-percent growth last year for Passenger and Light Duty Truck Segments,” he shared.
This then contributed to the 18-percent growth of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. and Truck Manufacturers Association. He even announced that six more dealerships are soon to open this year, ending the year 2018 with a total of 29 dealerships.
Foton’s strong aftersales capabilities of their dealerships and the availability of genuine parts improved the perception and level of confidence to the brand, which registered 35-percent and 40-percent growth on units received and labor and part sales, respectively.
Also, with the opening of three more dealerships operating in the areas of Pili, Camarines Sur, Santa Rosa, Laguna, and Marilao, Bulacan, augmenting the existing 23 dealerships nationwide that then made it even more convenient for customers as the group aspires to bring the brand closer to their potential market.
“We recognize all your efforts that you have poured into your jobs,” he then said while addressing the dealers during the night.
The head honcho even teased: “And with the presence of Mr. Ma Rentao, EVP Foton Motor Group, is a manifestation that they’re seriously considering Philippines as a regional hub for its Southeast Asia operations.”
For the company, they see a promising year ahead, despite the implementation of the new added excise tax.
“The automotive industry expects single-digit growth rate for 2018 but we remain optimistic because the Philippine economy will continue to be strong with an expected 6.8-percent growth rate,” Sytin averred.
Government programs such as the “Build, Build, Build” will usher more infrastructure projects hence the need for more affordable yet reliable commercial vehicles; the Department of Transportation’s airport modernization seeks to promote more travel and the Euro 4-emission standard implementation and jeepney modernization program aim to upgrade the local jeepneys, which would then provide big potential for the selection of their products.
Sytin aspired, “With this mind, we indeed do see an upbeat year ahead. I’m looking forward to a promising 2018.”