Hyundai and Kia brands were treated with minimal attention two decades ago. Their products were considered to be inexpensive-looking and often laughed at. Today, however, not only are these South Korean cars are deemed to be among the mainstream products in several countries, but they are now selling like hotcakes, garnering numerous awards in the process.
The same can be said about those cars emanating from China. Back in 2012, there were 19.27 million automobiles that were made from this country, as per the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. As it is, China has easily outpaced the United States with its 10.3 million vehicles manufactured per year to second place.
In the Philippines, like the aforementioned South Korean automotive aspirants, the local market is now started to embrace the presence of China in the industry. One of the newest Chinese automobile players that is now making rounds is the Beijing Automotive Industry Corp, or BAIC.
It was in September 2014 when BAIC finally entered the Philippine market where it was represented by Bayan Auto, a company that is a subsidiary of the Universal Motors Corp which is headquartered in Pasong Tamo, Makati City.
Founded in 1958, the BAIC Group is touted to be one of the top five auto groups in China and has also been listed among Fortune's Global 500 Companies for years now. The Group's Passenger Vehicle Plant, right alongside its R&D Center and the Electric Vehicle Plant in Beijing are likewise noted for their world-class and top-notch qualities.
Here's a brief history of how BAIC all started:
After 1958, the company's BJ212 off-road vehicle was formally placed into production in May 1966. Seven years after passed, the Beijing Automobile Industry was officially founded.
In 1983, the Beijing Automobile Works and American Motors created the first Chinese-foreign joint venture in manufacturing vehicles. Almost two decades in, the BAIC Group partnered with Hyundai Motor Company to form the Beijing Hyundai Motor Co., Ltd. In 2003, the BAIC Group formed a strategic collaboration between DaimlerChrysler AG in Beijing.
Meanwhile, the Beijing Automotive Parts Co. Ltd was launched. Two years after that, the acquisition of the intellectual property rights of Sweden's Saab automobile company made history.
The BAIC Group's self-owned brand intermediate class car officially came into the market on May 11, 2013. During the same year, the firm ranked 336th among the Fortune 500. It also ranked 18th place in the global automobile enterprise.
The BAIC Motors officially infiltrated the Philippine marker on September 2014. At that time, the company's BAIC MZ40 was awarded the 2014-2015 Car of the Year in Best Subcompact Van Category. Only a year after, the firm's local arm expanded to eight dealers in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
It was in 2016 when the BACI Group pushed the boundaries with its expansion to 22 accredited service centers in the Philippines. The BAIC showroom debuted in Makati while its Bayanihan H5 truck and Freedom truck were all launched in July 2017. It was also in this year when the BAIC Motors clinched the 2017 Best Compact Commercial Utility Vehicle by CAGI Car of the Year.
In 2018, another dealership of the BAIC Motors was launched in Bacolod while the company's BJ20 compact crossover utility vehicle and M50 multipurpose vehicles were announced during the third quarter of the year.
The BAIC Group furthered its presence locally with the launch of the MPV BAIC M60 and its MPVs – the M50s and the BJ20 during the Philippine International Motor Show in October 2018.
The Bayan Automotive Industries Corporation currently serves as the BAIC Group's official distributor in the Philippines. It is also in charge of the company's local marketing, dealer operations, and after-sales services for all of its BAIC models.
BAIC and The Philippines in 2019
Currently, the BAIC Group offers a slew of vehicles in the Philippines, ranging from SUVs, MPVs, to short mini vans and compact trucks.
The mid-size crossover MPV from the BAIC Group essentially banks on its smooth and spacious offerings –from its big, unibody construction and supple independent suspension which both make it a terrifyingly efficient executive minivan.
The M60's 147hp 1.5-liter BAIC A151E-1 turbocharged engine burns gasoline akin to a compact car in a demaning city traffic. Meanwhile, it can also draw on boosted displacement when needed, just enough to reach 170km/h right on the highway.
In the MPV segment, the BAIC Group also offers the M50S and the M20.
The compact crossover SUV entry from the company features a strong design language and a smooth and precise engineering –all culminating to an easy-going, versatile, go-anywhere experience.
The BJ20 is also considered as one of the largest models among the two-row compact crossovers. The firm claims that the SUV can seat five tall adults.
The BJ20 is also noted for its exceptional 215mm ground clearance and its 150hp Mitsubishi 1.5-liter 4A91T turbocharged Euro 5 gasoline engine.
In the SUV section, the BAIC Group also boasts of the X424 all-terrain SUV.
The 3-row short mini-van from the BAIC Group is all compact but is also roomy at the same time. It expertly combines passenger van comfort with that familiar cargo truck toughness.
Among its noted strengths include its strong high-loading construction, efficient layout, car-like handling, and hauling power. The latter is made possible by the strong yet equally compact A12 1.2-liter gasoline engine.
The BAIC Group's 4-row long mini-van, on the other hand, thrives on passenger van comfort and cargo truck toughness, all stretched to a mini bus size.
The bigger MZ45 is claimed to feature a capability to seat 11 passengers, or load up on oversized cargo like 8 by 4 foot plyboard sheets.
The Bayanihan H5, considered as the BAIC Group's most popular entry in the truck segment is essentially "light" for tighter roads but with its accompanying turbodiesel power and tough chassis, hauling a 1.8ton payload is both easy and worry-free.
Apart from its a class-busting payload, the Bayanihan H5 is also noted for its long rear deck, rugged running gear, and turbodiesel power.