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‘Chinese manufacturers are pretty bullish on the Philippines’

BPI Senior Vice-President Dennis T. Fronda — PHOTO FROM BPI

Interview by Kap Maceda Aguila

AT THE 20TH EDITION of the biennial Shanghai Auto Show, Jetour Auto Philippines, Inc. (JAPI) sent a delegation of media practitioners, social media influencers, and bank partners. We spoke to BPI Senior Vice-President Dennis T. Fronda on the sidelines about what this seeming resurgence of Chinese brands means for the Philippine mobility industry. Mr. Fronda is the group head of the Retail Lending and Bancassurance Group, and is a member of the Unibank Real and Other Properties Acquired (ROPA) Committee. Here are excerpts from our exclusive interview.

VELOCITY: With the influx of Chinese auto brands like Jetour, what does it say about the Philippine automotive industry? Are you seeing an increase in the number of car loan applications? And how is the approval rate doing at the moment?

DENNIS FRONDA: Well, basically it means more choices for the Filipinos. And when you talk about approval or take-up in terms of the banks, well, we in BPI have actually been one of the first to embrace the Chinese brands. So you can ask the manufacturers out there and you’d see that we have quite a good market share. We’re still seeing good quality, they’re attracting the right clients — meaning, because of their price point, they’re really getting the mostly employed. There’s regularity in the income. We’re seeing good quality of the portfolio so far.

Do you see an uptick in car loan applications in general at the moment, compared to last year? Are we seeing the economy further opening up as evidenced by the number of people wanting to get a car loan?

Actually, we’re back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of turn-in early as the fourth quarter of last year, if I’m not mistaken. In terms of actual release, we’re already doing better than pre-pandemic levels.

So we’re back to normal already?

Yes, we’re seeing it. It’s back to normal. And also some of the manufacturers who have been experiencing supply (shortage) are now seeing units slowly coming back into the Philippines. And, of course, the Chinese brands having consistent supplies are contributing to the good numbers for the industry in general.

The Chinese brands in particular seem to be a little bit better off compared to the competition.

Yes, and (they boast) proximity to the Philippines. And I think that the Chinese manufacturers are pretty bullish on the Philippines. You have seen them already in other ASEAN countries, and I think they’re looking at the Philippines to be the next driver in terms of their volumes.

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