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Looking back and MOVING forward

On its 35th year, Toyota Motor Philippines sees a future
with the revival of a trusted utility nameplate

By Dylan Afuang

LAST WEEK, TOYOTA Motor Philippines Corporation (TMP) celebrated 35 years of feats in automotive sales and production in the country.

TMP proudly sits as the number-one “mobility company” in the Philippines, holding an almost 50% market share in vehicle sales. As a result, the country has also become the Japanese carmaker’s 10th largest market globally.

From its incorporation in August 1989 to mid-2023, TMP has produced 1.03 million vehicles domestically, delivered 2.24 million units to homes across the nation, and received over 16 million units for maintenance at Toyota dealer workshops all across the country.

TMP continues to aid in the nation’s growth as well. Since 2000, TMP has invested a total of P73.7 billion, paid P448 billion in taxes and duties, and exported P73.7 billion worth of car parts and components. TMP’s Santa Rosa, Laguna plant also manufactures Toyota Aisin transmissions.

“It has been a privilege to grow and prosper here in the Philippines,” declared Toyota Motor Corporation Chairman Akio Toyoda in his speech at TMP’s 35th-anniversary event held in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. The executive had flown in for the occasion, and to attend key TMP activities over the weekend.

“My greatest wish is simply to be number one in the hearts of our customers here in the Philippines,” Mr. Toyoda continued. “Because we want to contribute more to this country than just cars. We want to help foster economic opportunity.”

For his part, TMP Chairman Alfred V. Ty recalled, “Thirty-five years ago, we established Toyota Motor Philippines, a company wholly committed to improving the lives of Filipinos through the business of manufacturing and selling automobiles. Many things have changed since, but the philosophy established by our founders, Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda and Dr. George SK Ty — ‘number one in quality and number one in customer service’ — will always remain the same. We renew our promise of providing mobility (for) every Filipino.”

One vehicle aimed to mobilize the Filipino masses and spur local economy is the next-generation Tamaraw — a light commercial vehicle (LCV) still in concept form and whose production version is slated for 2024 release.

Also known as the Toyota IMV 0 Concept and Rangga, the Tamaraw Concept can be configured in various body types — from pickup, delivery truck, public utility vehicle (PUV), ambulance, to mobile cafe — to suit a variety of businesses and purposes. The Tamaraw was shown as a pickup truck and PUV at TMP’s anniversary event.

Renowned for dependability, the Tamaraw line was born in 1970, and was then succeeded by the Tamaraw FX, Revo, and Innova models. The future iteration will revive the utility vehicle model once upon a time so ubiquitous here that it has become a landmark model for Toyota, and even for the entire Philippine auto history.

Mr. Toyoda shed more light on the IMV 0 vehicle.

“I truly believe these are products that can enhance the quality of life for many people and provide new economic opportunities,” he said about the Toyota innovative international multi-purpose vehicle (IMV) family, which comprises the Innova, Fortuner, and Hilux. “We believe in building cars to serve the real-life needs of our customers. That is why our IMV 0 team spent many months in the field observing the lifestyles and needs of our potential owners,” the leader added.

According to Mr. Toyoda, localizing the vehicle will also enable TMP to meet the unique conversion needs and demands of Philippine clients. At TMP’s Santa Rosa, Laguna, plant, the new Tamaraw will also be produced as completely built-up units (CBU). “In 2024, for the first time ever, IMV vehicles such as the next-generation Tamaraw will be produced as CBUs right here in the Philippines!” he proudly exclaimed.

TMP invested an additional P4.4 billion in the Philippines for the local Tamaraw production that could start by the third quarter of next year.

When asked by “Velocity” about the Tamaraw’s potential price points and specifications once it enters production, TMP Vice-President for Product Planning Nico Bravante pointed out that these are still being studied by the carmaker.

However, the pickup Tamaraw Concept displayed appeared to be a functioning prototype, with a 2.4-liter diesel in its engine bay, mated to a manual transmission. These clues suggest that the real thing is nearing final stages of development.

“As we look ahead, I want to assure you that the future of Toyota Philippines is very bright and only going to get brighter,” Mr. Toyoda concluded.

Part of this hope surely rides on the trusty Tamaraw.