Foreseeing the future ahead with Omoda and Jaecoo for the Philippines
When people think of innovation, they think of the great inventions of the West. The Wrights gave us wings. Marconi was the real radio star. While many think Henry Ford was behind the motor vehicle, it was actually Karl Benz who pioneered putting internal combustion on a carriage.
When the word China comes up when talking about innovation, what most people think is their strength in mass manufacturing and grand economies of scale, enabling the production of goods at lower prices. But the Chinese have invented so many things we take for granted.
We would be lost if they didn’t invent the compass. We wouldn’t be reading books if they hadn’t invented paper or printing. And we definitely wouldn’t be enjoying New Year’s Eve if they hadn’t invented the powder that makes the fireworks fly.
When it comes to cars, the story is a little different. Chinese cars are looked down upon, ridiculed, or downright refused by motorists. Well, at least that was the case before. In the Philippines to total volume of Chinese cars sold was way less than 1% of the total volume. With the entry of more modern offerings with far better designs, safer structures, more technology, and better build quality, it all started to change. Now Chinese brands account for over 4.5% of passenger vehicles alone.
The way forward was never going to be without struggles and mistakes were made early on. Chery, the parent company of Omoda and Jaecoo, is actually one of the first brands to enter the market. They learned a lot in those early efforts and applied these learnings to their business and products. Chery International has so far been the most experienced with foreign markets being the first Chinese carmaker to export cars since 2006.
Omoda and Jaecoo brands officially took center stage during this year’s Auto Shanghai where we “oddly” witnessed a presentation that was completely in English. Odd we say as traditionally auto manufacturers would do their presentations in Chinese, much more so when you are a Chinese brand.
As the Chery brand is seeing growth in export markets, it is time for their two new brands to shine. That’s why Omoda and Jaecoo brands took center stage during this year’s Auto Shanghai. What’s more, is that the presentation was done completely in English; which has never happened before for any Chinese automaker at China’s premier motor show.
As brand executives would like to put it, Omoda and Jaecoo represent a new way forward for the company. They want to establish these brands on the worldwide stage and have already set up in eight key markets such as China, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia. The company boasts of over 1,500 dealerships and service points that are pushing forth their global expansion.
What’s different is the approach. Omoda, for instance, is looking to a younger audience that desires personal mobility. That’s why they’re focusing on fresh designs, advanced tech features, and a different digital-centric ecosystem altogether. They want to do more online and on social media. As our editor put it, they’re looking at the “Tik-Tok generation”.
Will they succeed? Well, we got to see their Omoda 5 up close and drive it in their Longshan Multifunctional Test Field. In many ways, it has the hallmarks of Chery but a different kind of packaging. They set up a special course in Jiuzi Ancient Town with Huizhou-styled buildings in the background. The car drives fine.
Jaecoo’s strategy is a little different. They want to target a niche of well-to-do individuals with a passion for adventure. You can see it in their range of crossovers and SUV offerings that seem to borrow a significant degree of inspiration from Land Rover. That’s not copying though; Chery and Land Rover are partners in China, and it stands to reason that the partnership will influence the creation of a brand like Jaecoo.
Backing up these two brands is a manufacturing scale that is going to be difficult for many global automakers to compete with. A tour around their Smart Factory in Wuhu will make that clear as this manufacturing hub embodies the advanced principles of digital intelligence, eco-friendliness, and lean efficiency. They just thought of ways to rework how to improve their manufacturing across the board.
What was truly impressive was their NVH test lab and crash test facility. Chinese cars were once the laughingstock in safety tests, but not anymore. You’ll feel the difference between the many modern offerings if you get a chance to drive it on the road, or in our case the proving grounds. These are the very same facilities that roll out and test their legacy Chery brand vehicles.
From what we saw, they seem to be on the right track. Instead of just jumping into a market to try and grab sales however they can, Omoda and Jaecoo are really focusing more on what their brand of drive has to offer. They want to be distinct, and that will make a big difference in the Philippines as we are a unique market with many brand offerings despite our relatively small annual volume of less than 500,000 units.
Chery International wants to stand out, and they want to try this new innovative approach to branding, marketing, and motoring in our market. As to how it will work, we’ll have to wait and see.