Interview by Kap Maceda Aguila
AT THE SIDELINES of the launch of the MG HS, “Velocity” got a chance to speak exclusively with The Covenant Car Company, Inc.-MG Philippines President and CEO Atty. Alberto B. Arcilla about the new SUV, MG’s business, and his take on prospects. Here are excerpts from our interview.
VELOCITY: Please walk us through the decision to bring in the MG HS.
ATTY. ALBERTO B. ARCILLA: We were really very excited when we saw the global product line of MG. And we’ve been seeing that the HS has been winning a lot of awards. It’s been car of the year in various countries. We felt that now would be a good time to again offer another SUV. We were quite pleased and happy with the reception of the market to our MG ZS and RX5. With this new vehicle, we feel that it will be able to address many concerns of our market.
What are these concerns?
First, they want another choice for an SUV. They want the flexibility of having a car and an SUV even for city driving, and more importantly, we see that a lot of them are looking for certain specs and features that the HS can offer. The most critical: We see a lot of the buyers are looking to make a responsible purchase. We’ve learned during the pandemic to be responsible in everything that we do. Since we feel that the car is well equipped, the design aesthetic is very nice, and it is positioned very well, we feel that the market will appreciate this new model.
How does the HS compare to the popular ZS?
In the ZS, we are able to attract a specific demographic — people who want an SUV. The ZS is very agile, has good legroom, and is able to maneuver very well in the streets. However, the SUV market has really expanded the past two years, and we feel that we need to give our audience another option. In terms of demographics, an MG buyer is really someone who’s very adventurous, very progressive in thinking, and wants to try out new things. Our buyer is also someone who’s very educated and wants to find out the specs of cars. So we feel that since the market really expanded and we want to capture a bigger audience, we want to give them another choice. Hopefully, we’ll be able to speak again to the MG buyer — one who recognizes and acknowledges the brand heritage, aesthetics, and quality.
Its price point is very similar to the RX5’s. How would you distinguish the selling propositions of these two vehicles? Will you keep the RX5 in the lineup?
We’re very happy that we have a wide range of MG clients. Those who have purchased the RX5 have given us good feedback about the quality of the vehicle. The HS will provide us another option. We will keep the RX5, as it has been received very well; it’s price is very well-positioned. We feel that we should continue serving our MG audience with that particular model. But the HS is supposed to target a subset of a big segment. Their pricing is similar, but we’re giving the audience the choice. Whatever your need is, we will offer it to you. Since MG is continuously evolving globally, we have that opportunity to bring in more models here. We will continue with the RX5, but we’re very optimistic with the HS.
How soon can we expect MG Philippines to bring in electrified vehicles? We’re seeing a trend now that more brands are bringing in hybrids or even pure electrics.
We’re very excited. MG is one of the biggest manufacturers of EVs. Actually, in Europe, MG is only offering those. We have a full lineup of electrified vehicles ready for the Philippines. We’re very glad because we have a left-hand market, so it’s very easy to bring all these new models here. We’re just waiting for the right legislation so we’ll be able to prepare the market to appreciate having an EV and how to maintain it. As soon as the market is prepped, we’ll be here with EVs.
Is there something you can share among your plans for the year?
Even during the pandemic, the MG Philippines network grew from 29 to 39 dealerships. We were very happy and honored that a lot of our dealer partners applied during a time when we thought that the market or industry was going down. But because the restrictions in mobility were different in every location, there would be an opportunity to open in one location while another would be closed. We have about five to six more that will open within the year. Why are we preparing the market? Aside from the HS, we will be offering at least four to five more models within the next few months, and it will be in different segments. From what I see from the products being offered to us, it will be very exciting for the market.
What’s the industry outlook like for this year, and when are we getting back to pre-pandemic levels, in your opinion?
I feel that for this year, because there are a lot opportunities with very exciting products to be launched, there will definitely be growth. We still need mobility. Definitely, there will be growth from 2021 to 2022, however, if you ask me when the pre-pandemic numbers will return, maybe by next year. But we expect the players to be different. I think what we’ve seen during this pandemic is that people have expanded the way that they think. There’s more time for them to review what they want to do and what they want to purchase. So now we’re giving them all the options. We’re very optimistic in our growth potential, especially with new models.
When you say the players the will be different, are we going to see a resurgence in other brands outside of the usual suspects, so to speak?
That is my hope, because we’re one of the new players.