Big changes happening at TCCCI?

The month of December is typically a time when nothing newsworthy happens in the Philippine auto industry. Usually, it’s just Christmas parties, and maybe an occasional launch and preview because a lot of brands are winding down after a busy calendar year.

Yet for some reason, December 2023 is proving to be a very crazy one. Lots of movement is happening in the industry, there are quite a few launches, and some unusually timed executive changes.

Did HARI’s Fe Agudo take over Chevrolet, KG Mobility distributor TCCCI? image

This one, however, is something we didn’t see coming at all. And it involves a name that will certainly rock the industry: Fe Perez-Agudo.

Fe Perez-Agudo (FPA) is a highly respected executive in the Philippine auto industry. Under her bullish leadership together with Richard Lee and the late Edward Go, Hyundai reached new heights in the market to rise to number 3 in terms of sales behind Toyota and Mitsubishi. We say bullish because we distinctly remember her story about how she challenged senior Hyundai executives when they commented on a woman’s capability to run a car brand, to which she snapped back to ask these Korean executives what they knew about the Philippines.

She even leads AVID, or the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors; an industry organization that rose to promote the needs of automobile importers rather than the manufacturer-focused initiatives of CAMPI.

But the last few years have been rough on FPA and Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI). The Hyundai brand elected to come in as a subsidiary, so HARI pivoted to manage the Hyundai Truck and Bus side. They also kicked off a partnership with Changan to be the distributor, but that was short-lived as Changan made the switch to Inchcape.

The logical thing would be to retire after these setbacks, but it seems that won’t be the case. According to two very reliable and respected sources in the industry, FPA may have led to what can only be effectively described as a takeover of another automotive importer and distributor.

We’re talking about The Covenant Car Company, Incorporated.

As you may well know, TCCCI has long been the distributor of Chevrolet and -up until recently- MG. But the last few years haven’t been so kind to TCCCI. Chevrolet’s model range has lagged behind its rivals while at the same time, the pricing was high. It also didn’t help that popular models like the Trailblazer PPV and Colorado pick-up are no longer in production because the factory that made these vehicles is no longer under GM; it was bought by GWM.

In 2019, TCCCI did very well with MG and ranked in the top 10 when we factor in CAMPI and AVID sales. But like with the situation with Hyundai, the MG brand is now with a SAIC subsidiary as distributor and importer. TCCCI did pivot very recently to bring in KG Mobility (formerly Ssangyong) but time will tell how receptive the market will be to the brand. It’s still a very new development.

All this is still unofficial. There is no press release from TCCCI or official word from FPA or her team. What we did learn is that the “takeover” (if that is indeed what happened) may have resulted in a total change of senior management at TCCCI, which makes sense.

Knowing FPA, she wouldn't want it any other way but hers. We'll see what happens with this juicy bit of industry development.