Toyota seeking backing to spark hybrid demand in the Philippines

31, May. 2019

Yukio Yoshida (C), vice president of Toyota Daihatsu Engineering & Manufacturing Co., explains the merits of Prius hybrid car at Toyota Hybrid Electric Technology Conference in Taguig City, the Philippines, on May 29, 2019. (NNA/Kyodo)
Yukio Yoshida (C), vice president of Toyota Daihatsu Engineering & Manufacturing Co., explains the merits of Prius hybrid car at Toyota Hybrid Electric Technology Conference in Taguig City, the Philippines, on May 29, 2019. (NNA/Kyodo)

By Darlene Basingan

TAGUIG CITY, Philippines, NNA - Toyota Motor Corp. is putting resources toward promoting its hybrid vehicle range in the Philippines by holding an eco-car technology conference, looking to increase awareness, interest and demand in the technology.

Its local arm, Toyota Motor Philippines Corp., hosted a hybrid electric technology conference in Taguig City on Wednesday, with about 400 government officials, environmental experts, lawmakers and media in attendance.

Ten years after Toyota began selling hybrid vehicles in the Philippines, the Japanese automaker has moved just 300 units, including those from its higher-end Lexus brand.

“As a manufacturer, we need to make efforts to sell these models...and also some strategic pricing is needed,” Toyota Motor Philippines President Satoru Suzuki told NNA.

Suzuki said his firm needs support from the Philippines government in the form of reductions in excise taxes and the application of custom duty benefits.

The Prius hybrid model is priced at 2.25 million pesos ($43,000) in the Philippines, more expensive than traditional internal combustion engine cars, compared with a price tag of around 2.5 million yen ($22,800) in Japan.

Toyota says that by adopting hybrid vehicles, countries like the Philippines can see benefits in the energy, transportation, environment and health segments of their economy, warning that a premature move towards all-electric vehicles can be costly.

“Battery-powered vehicles need more preparation, there is a lot more complementary investment (necessary),” Vince Socco, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. in Singapore, said at a press briefing after the technology conference.

All-electric vehicles are still too expensive and the infrastructure for them is not in place in the Philippines yet, he added.

Under a new tax regime enacted in January 2018, fully electric vehicles are exempted from excise taxes, but hybrid cars are subject to only 50 percent reductions.

According to Toyota Motor Philippines, a 30 percent tariff is imposed on imported cars from Japan. If the government gives bigger cuts in import tariffs, the Prius price may fall into the region of 1.6 million to 1.7 million pesos.

Rafaelita Aldaba, undersecretary of the department of trade and industry, said the Philippine government is now crafting an incentive program for all types of electrified vehicles, including hybrid cars.

“We're still in the process of crafting the program,” Aldaba told NNA, adding the government, in the short term, may consider incentives in terms of tariff elimination especially for domestically produced vehicles. (NNA/Kyodo)