Seems like a major group may be planning BAIC's return

In the last couple of months, there have been many news about big changes in the local automotive market. Brands have been changing distributors, and there are new automotive marques that are about to come to our relatively small but extremely diverse market.

Yes, there are more brands coming in; some are new, but some are returning. And it seems 2024 will mark the return of another Chinese auto brand: BAIC.

BAIC Motor is one of China’s largest automakers right up there with SAIC, Dongfeng, GAC, and BYD. But while many of their fellow major Chinese automakers are finding success in establishing a presence in the Philippine market, BAIC hasn’t had it so easy. They’ve had two distributors that we know of, but right now we’re not quite sure if the last one we spoke to is still active.

BAIC BJ80 UAAGI PH image

That may change as it seems that a company with a lot of experience with Chinese brands may be taking on BAIC. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves: What made us think that a new company wants to manage BAIC?

Before a new model is launched, a manufacturer or importer needs to get a certificate from a certain government agency. While the make and model might not appear once it is approved and made public, the name of the company is there along with important details like the displacement of the engine and the weights of the vehicle.

What we spotted was an approval for a passenger vehicle with a gasoline engine that is a rather large 2990cc displacement, a reference mass (curb weight) of 2445 kilograms, and a gross weight of 2785 kilograms. And here’s the kicker: the company that filed for it is United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. or UAAGI.

BAIC BJ80 UAAGI PH image

UAAGI is also the company that currently handles two brands: one is Foton, while the other is Chery. Actually, they seem to be set to handle the upmarket marque of another auto brand (more on that later). There have been rumors that they have been looking at adding BAIC to their portfolio, but finding confirmation that isn’t covered by an off-the-record agreement is difficult.

So why do we think that they are looking at BAIC when there are no indicators that BAIC is the vehicle that was granted a certification? We go to the details: 2990cc, gasoline, and the weights. Not a lot of vehicles fit that description, and neither are there any we know of from Foton, Chery, or another brand (that they are also looking at) that has an engine with that specific combination of details. 

The only one is from BAIC, and that’s their large 4x4 SUV (which has some rather interesting resemblances to the G wagon) called the BJ80. It has a 3.0L gasoline engine, and the weight of such a vehicle is right up there in the ballpark of the stated weights in the certification. And here’s another indicator: Foton is also part of the BAIC group, but there’s no vehicle in their lineup we can find that matches the details.

That’s really it. Still, it’s all conjecture and they won’t confirm anything. When we know more, we’ll publish it as soon as we can.