Six months after the local Jaguar and Land Rover dealership closed down, the British luxury car brands are back in the country, this time, under a new distribution and importation company.
Coventry Motors Corporation (CMC) signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Jaguar Land Rover on Friday, November 24, to become the British marque’s official distributor in the Philippines.
“The Philippines’ robust growth of 6.9 percent in the last quarter—which has surpassed even that of China—is a clear indication that this is a market that holds remarkable promise and potential for quality premium cars that will meet the needs of a sophisticated and developed consumer base,” said Robin Colgan, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Asia Pacific.
“I think everybody’s forecast for the future in this market has been very positive,” he added. “(Despite the) large population, at this point, car ownership is still very low. The luxury car market as a percentage of the overall market is still very low and everything points to strong growth.”
Jaguar and Land Rover were first brought to the country by Wellington Soong in the late 1990s. In May this year, the dealership closed down, ostensibly due to the impending increase in the vehicle excise taxes, which is part of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), the flagship tax reform bill of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Marc Soong, executive director of Jaguar Land Rover Philippines and son of Wellington Soong, attributed the closure of the dealership to the excise tax issue.
“With the coming excise tax, we have no leg to stand on as we do not know how things will play out,” he said in an interview with Top Gear Philippines.
“We had a very good relationship with the previous distributor,” said Robin Colgan, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover Asia Pacific at the contract signing. “I would also like to thank very much the team and the organization there for the work that they’ve done over the years in working with Jaguar Land Rover.”
Colgan said the company is in the midst of a growth phase, with a significant investment over the last few years and plans to expand their lineup of vehicles.
“The truth is that we’re now at a next phase in terms of Jaguar Land Rover’s expansion, so our lineup has gone from literally a handful of models to now 12 products,” he said. “I can tell you without breaking any confidentiality agreements that the models that we currently market and that we will bring to the Philippines, that model range is going to expand quite dramatically into the future. And with it comes requirements for space, service capacity. The business has grown exponentially, in terms of scale.”
Colgan added that the company was well aware of the impending increase in vehicle excise taxes but said they remain confident the brands will do well in the country, particularly with the large population and the emerging middle class.
“What we’ve learned, is that clearly, (the increased taxes) restricts the market somewhat, but it doesn’t mean that the market goes away,” he added. “There’s still an interest and a demand. I think it probably means you have to work a little bit harder. And one of the ways in which you have to work a little bit harder is that there’s no point in coming to a market with a high tax structure as an also-ran. The pressure to really give people a reason to buy, I think, increases. And the way in which you give people a reason to buy is by giving them strong differentiation from everything else that’s on offer.”
CMC meanwhile said that the increase in the vehicle excise tax was a consideration that did not stop them from pursuing the Jaguar Land Rover deal.
“All our future plans have already factored in the increase in excise taxes,” said Gerry Alejandro, president of CMC. “We are very honored and happy that Coventry has been appointed as the exclusive distributor and importer of Jaguar Land Rover, two of the most iconic brands ever. We look forward to working with them and to putting our efforts and resources behind successfully building the brands in the country.”
Two new products in Jaguar Land Rover’s lineup will soon be available in the Philippines—the Range Rover Velar and Jaguar-branded crossover SUV, the E-Pace.
“While we will have the lines and products that the brand was built on, things like the XF and the XJ, and of course the full-size Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport, we’re really excited about the Range Rover Velar and excited about the Jaguar E-pace,” Alejandro said.
“I might not have any data to back this up, but my feeling from spending a lot of time here is that people like cars,” Colgan said. “And they like luxury cars. They like us, they like our brands, they want us here and they want us to do a good job here. And I sense that there’s a pent-up demand, particularly as we’re going through this phase now that we’re launching new products. So it’s nice to feel wanted. We just have to make sure we do a good job. And we will.”
The first Jaguar Land Rover showroom under CMC will open during the first quarter of 2018 at the 1010 Building along EDSA in San Juan.
For existing Jaguar and Land Rover clients and other inquiries, visit jaguar.ph or landrover.ph or call (02) 723 5805