He’s into vintage Swiss watches, tobaccos, single-malt whiskeys, guns, golf, Italian scooters, banking and finance, speaking on talk shows, and, of course, cars.
George Chua is a man of many passions and who wears many hats. But we talk to the man who is the president and CEO of Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation or BAIC.
BAIC is a relatively new Chinese car brand and may not yet be a household name, but it’s an upstart company that has big plans for the vibrant local car scene. Let’s see what the big boss has to say about the brand.
2.O: What’s the first thing you want us to know about BAIC—the car and the company?
George: Well, actually, the parent company of Bayan Auto is Universal Motors Corporation, which has been in business for more than 60 years now. They were the ones who brought in a Mercedes-Benz into the country. And they were also the assemblers of both Mercedes-Benz and, eventually, Nissan. At the time it was still more popularly known as Datsun.
2.O: Can you tell us about the rationale behind bringing in the BAIC brand to the Philippines?
George: Right now, we thought [sic] of further expanding that brand introduction into BAIC, which is a big brand in China. It actually stands for Beijing Auto. And they are also the ones who manufacture and assemble Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai in China. So these people are quite large, they’re a global Fortune 500 company, I believe around number 127.
2.O: How many years has BAIC been in the Philippines?
George: We launched the product at the 5th Philippine International Motor Show, which was back in 2014. So, we’re on our fourth year right now.
2.O: How has it been doing from 2014 to 2018?
George: Well, I’m pleased to say that with the experience brought by Universal Motors, we’ve been able to maintain our growth rate at a rate faster than the industry, so we’ve been gaining market share. And we’re also happy to say that we’ve had many, many satisfied customers.
2.O: Who and what is your market?
George: Our typical market depends on the type of products that we have. When we first launched BAIC, we were really focusing on affordability. Versatile vehicles that will be used not just for family, but also for business use. And in the Philippines, as you’re aware, our road conditions are not exactly great. Not only that, we need to have a little height to take into account the flooding that occurs from time to time. A lot of our vehicle sales have really been focused on trying to get large seating capacity vehicles with high elevation at a cheap and affordable price. It was a tough demand but I think were able to come up with the right products to suit that purpose.
2.O: Which BAIC models so far have been in highest demand here in Metro Manila? In the provinces?
George: In the city, it’s the M20 MPV now; it used to be the M50S. For rural areas, it’s the MZ40 and MZ45 minivans.
2.O: They say that the confidence of a manufacturer in its products is reflected in the length of the car’s warranty. How long is the typical warranty of BAIC models?
George: The standard warranty is 100,000 kilometers or three years.
2.O: Not a bad warranty period. Personally, what is your favorite BAIC model?
George: It’s the BJ 20 SUV.
2.O: We did hear that you will be introducing SUVs…
George: Yes, it’s called the BJ 20. It has all the dynamic requirements that will suit people who have an adventurous lifestyle.
2.O: When will this model arrive in the Philippine market?
George: It’s on the boat as we speak. So, you should be able to see it in full blast on the 7th Philippine International Motor Show this October.
2.O: So we’re going to have a proper launching of it?
George: Yes, of course. We will have a soft launch and not only that, we’ll invite you to test drive it.
2.O: We’re looking forward to test-driving it. Just as much as we look forward to seeing BAIC wade into one of the most in-demand segments of the local car industry—the small SUV/crossover class.
George: Actually we’re trying to sort of educate the market first of all about the brand. All of these vehicles are actually superior in many aspects to other well-known brands.
2.O: Now we’re really intrigued! Can’t wait to put those new cars through their paces!