The Chinese brand Changan is memorable to me because I drove alone to Batangas in December 2020—just four months after having had brain surgery—to attend its event. To be honest, I had high hopes for the brand for our market because leading the new distributor then was no other than Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo. Yes, the person largely credited with Hyundai’s breakthrough in the Philippines. Of course, you already know how the Korean automaker officially entered our market last year, leaving Agudo no choice but to find another car brand to nurture.
For a while, we in motoring media were confused because for a short time, Changan had been carried by Bermaz Auto. That’s another story, I guess.
So you can imagine our surprise (and more confusion) when it was announced in August that Changan would now be distributed by Inchcape, the same global company that had formed a partnership with CATS Group (Auto Nation Group) to handle Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram.
Ignoring the PR-sounding answers by a Changan officer, I just chose to conclude that Agudo’s team simply did not meet the targets of their Chinese principals.
At last weekend’s display in Bonifacio Global City, Changan Auto (slightly differently named from Agudo’s Changan Motor Philippines) presented the existing product line of the carmaker for our market: Alsvin, CS35 Plus, CS55 Plus, Uni-T, and Uni-K. The new distributor also introduced a new seven-seater SUV, the X7 Plus.
Equipped with a BlueCore 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, this car is priced at P1,580,000.
Also shown was an all-electric midsize SUV called the S7. If its emblem looked strange, that’s because the vehicle sported the logo of Deepal, the EV arm of Changan. This is not yet available in our market, but Changan is studying the possibility of bringing it here in the near future.
Also making their public appearance for the first time for Changan were Filipino executives Maricar Parco and Redentor “Jun” Cajayon. The pair had moved from Astara Philippines, where they had managed the brands of Peugeot and GAC, respectively.
Interesting things are definitely happening in the local car industry. Will Changan be successful under Inchcape? We’ll see.