Well, here's another interesting twist in the Philippine automotive industry.
It seems there is a group that's planning to bring in another brand to join the automotive market. And this time, it comes not from China, but from Korea (with a French connection) apparently.
We've just learned that there is a group that is in supposedly planning to introduce the automobile models of Renault Samsung Motors (RSM). And they're planning to launch RSM by April of this year, which presumably could be at the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS).
We learned of this when we checked the planned layout of the show, and there was a display area tagged as "KFC". Now we don't think the Colonel is planning any displays at a major auto show, but upon checking with a few contacts, the KFC stands for "Korean French Car". Go figure.
The group behind the rumored arrival of Renault Samsung Motors is a group that is responsible for the presence of a major new Chinese automobile brand in the country. As to which one, we still have to verify, but think it may be the company behind GAC Motors. And on the floor plan, "KFC" is located right beside GAC.
Now if Renault Samsung brand is unfamiliar, it basically began as Samsung Motors in 1994 by the Samsung Group conglomerate; yes, it's the same group that owns Samsung Electronics. The company became Renault Samsung after the French automaker bought 80.1 percent of the shares.
Because of the Renault ownership, the company builds models in South Korea based on Renault models and platforms. The naming standards of RSM is to use the letters SM for their passenger car models such as SM3 (compact saloon) up to the large SM7. RSM uses the letters QM for their crossover SUV models such as the QM3 which is based on the Renault Captur and QM6 which is based on the Renault Koleos.
The Renault connection is likewise interesting because that would mean the brand can theoretically take advantage of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance. We asked our contacts that are privy to the dealings of the Alliance, but we were told that RSM is not considered to be technically part of it as individual companies can have their own partnerships and joint ventures.
There are some caveats though, the first being that Renault Samsung is facing some issues in South Korea. They build their cars in Busan, but they're facing strong pressure from larger companies such as Hyundai and Kia. Their volume and profits in the last couple of years haven't been as bullish as their rivals under the Hyundai Motor Group.
While the Philippine auto market has taken favorably to Korean auto brands such as Hyundai, Kia, and even Ssangyong, as far as we know no other group has ever attempted to introduce vehicles with Samsung on the trunklids. So it's still a big question mark as to how such a brand would fare.
The same applies to Renault. Unless we're mistaken, Renault doesn't have much history or presence here or in South East Asia in general. French automakers aren't doing too well in the region, and currently, the only French auto brand in the Philippines is Renault-rival Peugeot. Sales-wise, Peugeot isn't doing too well either; their 179 unit sales in 2019 represents a 26.6 percent dip compared to 2018.
In a few months, we'll know more about the supposed introduction of Renault Samsung Motors or whether they're playing an April Fool's joke and it's, in fact, a pop-up store selling finger-lickin' good fried chicken.