THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is considering an additional program to support the domestic manufacture of small and affordable eco-friendly public utility vehicles (PUVs).

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters at a forum on Tuesday that the target cost for class 1 Eco-PUVs is less than P1 million.

Para may cheaper alternative (To offer a cheaper alternative) — one that we can sell below P1 million — so operators have options when they need bigger or smaller vehicles,” he said.

The class 2 vehicle supported by an earlier program cost about P1.5 to P1.6 million, he said.

Class 1 vehicles carry at least nine passengers, while class 2 vehicles carry at least 22.

Support would come in the form of incentives depending on the number of units produced.

He said that there have been proposals from Toyota Motor Philippines, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., and Hyundai Philippines.

The additional program was created to support manufacturing, Mr. Lopez said, as well as to address operators’ concerns about the prices of Eco-PUVs.

He added, however, that the larger vehicles make more money for operators.

Kikita din sila doon kasi mas marami kang pasahero… mas malaki ‘yung revenue mo. Bigger vehicle eh. Ganoon din naman ito, smaller vehicle — mas mura. (They will make a profit with large vehicles because they will have more passengers and more revenue. It’s a bigger vehicle. The trade-off is that the smaller vehicle is cheaper).”

“So the payback periods (for the two types of vehicle) will probably approximate each other.”

The program is expected to launch by the first quarter of 2020, and may be combined with the earlier program for larger vehicles. — Jenina P. Ibañez