Toyota rolls out light truck to help Philippine public transport upgrade effort
MANILA, NNA – The Philippine unit of Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled on Tuesday the prototype of its light commercial Hilux model truck, the automaker’s contribution to a government program for replacing old public utility vehicles with modern ones and reduce carbon emissions while ensuring safe public transportation.
Toyota’s vehicle meets the criteria under a category of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program. The covered trucks with nine to 12 seats are ideal for narrow streets and provincial roads, including in areas with relatively little demand for public transportation.
“We decided to eventually join in response to the government's request, and also, so that we contribute to the social infrastructure improvement in the Philippines,” Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. President Satoru Suzuki told NNA in an email. It expects to profit, he said.
The Hilux prototype contains features required by the government modernization. Those perks include dash cams, CCTV equipment, Wi-Fi routers, fully air-conditioned and has equipment for passengers with disabilities.
Toyota officials have set no release date yet for the Hilux trucks model as the Philippine Department of Transportation, and Department of Trade and Industry must still evaluate it for program compliance, Toyota Motor Philippines corporate planning Vice President Allen Rufo said in a phone interview.
Each vehicle will cost about 998,000 pesos ($19,616). A commercial version, the 5-seater Toyota Hilux 2.4, is priced between 829,000 pesos and 1,636,000 pesos.
Other Japanese automakers have already entered the government transport improvement program. Among them are Isuzu Motors Ltd. and Hino Motors Ltd. which is 51 percent owned by Toyota Motor.
Hino Motors Philippines Corp. has produced jeepneys – a uniquely Filipino mass transit vehicle that looks like a longish truck with benches in the bed. The company has sold some vehicles to transport cooperatives.
The Philippine Department of Transportation says Hilux trucks are affordable enough to allay concerns of the cost of replacing older vehicles.
“Modernization is not expensive, provided you make the right choice,” transportation secretary Arthur Tugade was quoted as saying in a department statement on Tuesday. “There is always a cheaper alternative.”