By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

JAPANESE automaker Toyota Motor Corp. is investing an additional P4.4 billion in the Philippines for the local production of the next-generation Tamaraw, which could start by the third quarter of next year.   

“I’m very pleased to say, that in 2024, for the first time ever, innovative international multi-purpose vehicles (IMVs) such as the next-generation Tamaraw, will be produced as completely built-up units (CBUs) right here in the Philippines at our Santa Rosa plant,” Toyota Motor Corp. Chairman Akio Toyoda said on Tuesday.

“This will present an additional investment by Toyota of P4.4 billion,” he added.   

He made the announcement during his speech at the 35th anniversary of its domestic unit Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) in Taguig City as he presented the Tamaraw concept vehicle.

The next-generation Tamaraw is described as a light commercial vehicle (LCV) that is aimed to provide a more affordable vehicle option for entrepreneurs.   

“The introduction of the LCV line will help sustain TMP’s production operations, while localization of the model will also allow TMP to respond to the specific conversion requirements and specialized needs of Philippine customers,” TMP said in a separate statement.   

Separately, TMP First Vice-President for Corporate Affairs Rommel R. Gutierrez told reporters on the sidelines of the event that the local production for the Tamaraw, also called IMV-0, could begin by the third quarter of next year.    

However, Mr. Gutierrez said the company does not have final details yet on the name, pricing, and production volume.   

“It will begin local production around third quarter next year. It is just a concept car. We don’t have the details yet, even the name, even the [planned] volume. But it certainly will be produced here,” Mr. Gutierrez said.   

“As early as now, we are already preparing the production line, and even the parts makers, they have the design. They are also sourcing already,” he added.   

The next-generation Tamaraw is the third completely knocked-down model to be produced at TMP’s Sta. Rosa plant, alongside the Vios and the Innova.   

According to Mr. Gutierrez, the new Tamaraw could be used for the businesses of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), or as an ambulance, patrol car, and modernized jeepney.   

“It is going to be very affordable for MSMEs. We want to support the MSMEs,” he said.

Mr. Gutierrez also hinted at the possibility that the next-generation Tamaraw could have a hybrid or electric-powered variant.   

“It is a matter of time. As you know, the current models that we have, there are already hybrid variants. So in the future, [it’s] possible,” he said.    

Meanwhile, Mr. Gutierrez said the P4.4 billion investment will be used for the vehicle’s parts localization, among others.     

He added that TMP is looking at including the production of the Tamaraw in the government’s Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program, which was recently extended for five years.   

“It depends. Of course, we need the support of the government. Any form of support would really be crucial to this,” Mr. Gutierrez said.   

The CARS program, introduced in 2015 under Executive Order No. 182, mandated participating car manufacturers to produce at least 200,000 units of their enrolled model to avail of incentives. The enrolled model is eligible for P9 billion worth of fiscal support.   

The program participants are TMP and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC).

Under the program, MMPC produces the Mirage hatchback and G4 sedan, while TMP manufactures the Vios sedan.    

Before the five-year extension, MMPC had until this year to meet the required production while TMP had until next year.     

As of mid-2023, TMP locally manufactured 1.03 million units, delivered a total of 2.24 million units to Filipinos, and received over 16 million units for servicing across dealer workshops in the country.   

“TMP and the Toyota Group have cumulatively invested P73.7 billion since 2000. The Group has paid duties and taxes of P448 billion and exported P18.76-billion worth of auto parts and components since 1997,” the company said.