If there's a new car company that's making a strong impression in the Philippine automotive market, it has to be Geely.
In less than two years, Geely has brought forth three models that have impressed local customers. These are the Coolray subcompact crossover, the Azkarra compact crossover, and the 7-seat Okavango. The Coolray is consistently a top-ranked model in its class, and it even impressed us so much that we selected it as our top pick for 2020.
Now there's a change of leadership for the local importer and distributor of Geely as they have just confirmed that their executive vice president, Yosuke Nishi, will be taking over the reins of the company as president and CEO.
Mikihisa Takayama has been the president and CEO of Sojitz G Auto Philippines (SGAP) since 2019 and oversaw the successful launches and sales of their model range. During his stint here, he helped bring the brand to become part of the top ten best-selling automakers in the country. He also steered Geely during the tough times that plummeted auto sales last year. Despite all that, Takayama kept the company on course.
Takayama is expected to return to the parent company Sojitz Corporation in Japan to assume a new senior role that has yet to be confirmed. As for his successor, Nishi aims to continue the strong momentum Geely has at the moment.
Sojitz has been very active in the Philippine market for decades as the other major shareholder of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC). However, when Nissan was able to secure the lion's share of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) in 2016 after the fuel economy issue, it was bound to end. Nissan's boss at the time, Carlos Ghosn, reportedly preferred not to work with trading houses like Sojitz. Insiders informed us that Nissan made Sojitz an offer they couldn't refuse for their shares in MMPC.
The specifics of the deal were never disclosed to us. However, it was clear that the deal was good for Sojitz. That resulted in the re-emergence of the Geely brand at a time when the Chinese automaker was reaping the rewards of their partnership (well, ownership) of Volvo. It also resulted in the company getting custody of the Fuso brand in the Philippine market.
The handover between the outgoing and incoming president was likely done to coincide with the new Fiscal Year (FY) that started on the first of April. Japanese corporations tend to make major leadership changes and management changes when a new FY comes about, a kind of standard practice.