Promises or Promising? The Omoda and Jaecoo China Experience – Opinion

We now live in a time where there are new automotive brands sprouting out almost every year, it seems the automotive market is as lucrative as it’s ever been.

The country most responsible for this boom is China, with an invigorated economy there are now more China brands in the Philippines than the established brands from Japan, America, and even Europe.

This will be a story on one of the newest Chinese brands on the market, Omoda and Jaecoo. Who I was able to go with to the recently concluded 2024 Beijing Motor Show.

Much has been whispered and said about this trip, but this will be my first-hand account of what I observed and experienced. I speak for myself only as other journalists will surely have their takes.

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Omoda and Jaecoo Promises

We need to go back in time a little bit to around the middle of 2023 when we were informed a new China brand was set to launch in the Philippines. Omoda and Jaecoo were confirmed to launch sometime in 2023, this was said to me and a small group of journalists present for a Zoom conference with executives in China.

What followed was a series of confusion and more promises, as we waited for the actual official launch we were being emailed a slew of Press Release materials about the vehicles both brands offer. After a few months though it started becoming a bit tiresome to continue following Omoda and Jaecoo on paper with no definitive launch date in sight.

This baffled me because Omoda and Jaecoo are in the Philippines as an official subsidiary of the mother company. As opposed to other brands where they find local distributor groups to sell the vehicles on the brand’s behalf. As an official subsidiary that would on paper give them more power and better access to the mother company, to hasten the process of operations.

In late 2023 we joined yet another Zoom conference where the brand said the 2024 Manila International Auto Show (MIAS) will serve as the official launch and previews of the Omoda and Jaecoo vehicles. With the show drawing near more PR’s were emailed teasing what they’ll be showcasing during the show, so all seemed well.

Unfortunately on the first day of the show, with the doors already opened to the media and the public, the booth was there but it was empty… Now I don’t know the full reason for the delay, but to have the show open without the cars in your booth is not good optics for any brand, let alone one that has yet to prove itself.

Nonetheless, the cars eventually made their way to the booth and a launch program took place in the afternoon where we were able to see with our own eyes the Omoda and Jaecoo cars.

Time to jump back into the present, I was part of the media contingent of Omoda and Jaecoo for the 2024 Beijing Motor Show and I was excited to finally see inside the brand and learn the ins and outs of what seems like a promising brand of vehicles. We arrived a day before the show in Beijing and settled down into what was slated to be an exciting trip. Our group would be the first PH journalists to properly get their hands on the vehicles as local lend-outs haven’t fully begun.

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Things started to get shaky the moment we stepped off the bus to enter the venue of the show itself. As we made our way through the mass of people, we arrived at the brand booth, where we were suddenly informed that the new vehicle that we were brought to China to see would not be launched during the show, but instead be launched to us in Wuhu where the brand is based.

Now I don’t really mind the sudden changes as I’m sure it’s difficult to manage and set up a motor show, but it would have been nice to know ahead of time. We instead took photos and some content of the brand’s cars that we already saw at MIAS a few weeks before albeit with a few changes, namely the engine. This no doubt cast some dark clouds over us media who were excited to get to work and amplify the brand’s latest model.

Side note, while we were in China a few posts on social media made the rounds about a certain model from the brand that broke down despite being new. As I don’t know the full details I will refrain from giving an opinion, but I will say that this did not improve the group’s morale.

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A few days later we made our way to Wuhu which is a thousand kilometers away from Beijing, we took the bullet train cutting the travel time to only 4 hours. We settled into Wuhu and were once again expecting to finally experience the vehicles firsthand and in-depth.

The day of the test drive came, and we were shuttled to a theme park in Wuhu which had a parking lot similar to the Mall of Asia concert grounds. This parking lot was converted to a small test track with acceleration, braking, and handling tests.

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I was able to sample the Jaecoo 6 EV, the Jaecoo 7 PHEV, and the Omoda 5 EV. The key word here is “sample” because we spent a maximum of around 2 minutes driving each car around. This in reality is not enough time to properly give a verdict on how they are but I can say that they are decently made vehicles.

I could tell that ample thought, dedication, and engineering were put into these vehicles. None of them felt half-baked, and I was actually impressed by the driving dynamics I experienced in my short time behind the wheel.

What was supposed to follow was a chance for us to experience the Jaecoo vehicles off-road which is one of the things they say is the Jaecoo’s strength. We arrived at the off-road area and were given a briefing on how to properly and safely operate the vehicles on the loose and muddy surface, as we made our way to the testing area itself things suddenly became weird.

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The marshalls ushered us to the Jaecoo 7 and the new Jaecoo 8 as passengers not drivers. At first, we thought it would be a sightseeing lap then we’d be able to get our chance to drive the cars. Nope, we weren’t allowed to drive them at all off-road, us motoring journalists who drive multiple cars for a living were reduced to passengers on a 2-minute ride along.

Despite our attempts to tell the marshalls that we had been briefed on how to drive, nothing was done to rectify the situation. I’m normally a patient person, and I tend to let things play out because I am after all a guest of the brand, but I couldn’t fathom why we went all this way to a muddy rainy area and be briefed to drive, but not actually drive.

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Promises or Promising?

I’ve highlighted just some of my main concerns with the trip and how it was handled but in reality, I can’t say anything other than they bit off more than they could chew. The inexperience of this 1-year-old brand was apparent, and should be chalked up to growing pains right?

Well, that’s where it gets tricky, because the delays of the local brand launch itself, and the blunder at MIAS should’ve energized them to put on a show and the best foot forward for the media group going with them to their home turf.

This was their chance to prove that the teething problems that follow a new brand are just that, but instead, I’m left conflicted about Omoda and Jaecoo. I like their products, I truly believe that they are well-made and quality items for the Philippine market.

Unfortunately, as a journalist trained to observe my surroundings, I couldn’t help but notice the general confusion that followed this 7-day trip to China.

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In the end, despite my confusion, I truly am rooting for Omoda and Jaecoo for a few reasons. We attended a massive conference where company executives sang praises and made more promises, which I felt they wanted to be able to fulfill at some point.

This is my first “weird” experience with the brand, and I’m inclined to give them a fair shot because the products speak for themselves which for me is what matters in the end. If they truly were troubled then that would show in the final product, right?

Actually, the final product is just part of the equation, the brand must also solidify proper dealership relations and after-sales service. These are the core of the Filipino car buying experience that they can’t afford to get wrong.

To wrap this up, I want to say to Omoda and Jaecoo that they are now put on notice to go and actually be what you set out to be in the first place, be the brand that you tell us you are.


Pablo Salapantan

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo's first word was probably "Car", and this has developed into a personal passion that has consumed his professional life as well.

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