November 01, 2016 at 11:59 pm
Othel V. Campos
Japanese car Daihatsu is expected to return to the Philippines soon, intensifying the competition in the small passenger car segment, according to industry sources.
Sources said Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. planned to bring the iconic small car Daihatsu to reinforce its leadership in the small car category.
Toyota acquired a controlling interest in Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd. in 1998. Daihatsu became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Toyota in 2016.
Toyota’s mini-car Wigo capitalized on its years of exposure in the Philippine automotive market. Rival brands include Mirage, Fiesta, Alto, Celerio, i10 and Picanto.
Toyota’s sub-compact cars include Vios and Yaris, which compete with City, Jazz, Accent, Fiesta, Mazda2, Swift and Rio.
Sources said Toyota Motors Japan would export the small car from Daihatsu Motor Company’s facility in Indonesia.
The small car Daihatsu will be sold under the Toyota brand in the Philippines. Price points are yet to be announced, as Toyota was still assessing the proper timing to introduce the brand, sources said.
Sources said a year-end launch of Daihatsu in the Philippines was an option, although Toyota might also decide to introduce the brand in early 2017. Toyota earlier planned to bring in the car four years ago.
Toyota Motor Philippines currently focuses on preparing for the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy program, which offers large incentives to vehicle manufacturers in the Philippines.
Toyota endorsed the Vios model as its official entry to the Cars program, while Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. enrolled the Mirage model, both hatchback and sedan, as its official entry.
Toyota is investing in the production of at least 230,000 units of the Vios over the next six years. The company committed to invest P3.3 billion to increase the production of Vios.
Trade Secretary and Board of Investments chairman Ramon Lopez awarded the registration certificate to TMPC president Satoru Suzuki and vice chairman Alfred Ty on July 22, 2016.
Toyota remains the dominant automotive player in the Philippines, with 43.78-percent market share as of September 2016.
Total industry sales from January to September reached 330,116 units including imports.
Industry group Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. said it was optimistic that the industry would hit the 360,000 units sales target for the year.