Targets 200K car sales by 2020
TOYOTA Motor Philippines (TMP) on Wednesday night introduced its new president, Satoru Suzuki, before distinguished guests and media at the Makati Shangri-La in Makati City.
In a symbolic turnover ceremony, Suzuki took over from Michinobu Sugata, who had been leading TMP since 2010.
Sugata was responsible for Toyota’s continuous growth in the Philippines over the past six years, with the company reaching a record 125,000 unit sales in 2015. He also made waves in the Philippine motorsports scene for initiating the Vios Cup, a national racing series using race-prepared Toyota Vios cars.
In an interview with The Manila Times, Suzuki said TMP is aiming for 150,000 vehicle sales this year, 20 percent higher than last year. Increased sales are expected not only from the recently launched Hilux pickup truck, but also from new models of the Fortuner sport utility vehicle (SUV) and Innova Asian utility vehicle (AUV) that are both coming out this year.
Suzuki had his first tour of duty in TMP back in 1997-1999 as marketing vice president in charge of sales and product planning operations. After his three-year stint, he joined Toyota Motor Asia Pacific (TMAP) in Singapore, where he handled the Philippine and Thailand markets, returning to Japan some time later to handle plant expansions and new-car introductions for Asian countries. His last assignment before becoming TMP president was handling sales-related issues in Asia as part of both TMAP-Japan and TMAP-Singapore.
Kyoichi Tanada, Toyota Motor Corporation managing officer and CEO for Asia, Middle East and North Africa regions, said in a speech that Suzuki will be part of TMP’s goal of reaching 200,000 unit sales by 2020.
TMP’s actual vehicle sales last year reached more than 125,000 driven by the robust Philippine economy.
Sugata told The Manila Times in an interview that he would still be in touch with the Philippines for his new assignment as executive vice president of Toyota Motor Asia Pacific (TMAP). He has also been appointed general manager of TMAP-Japan.
In his speech, Sugata expressed optimism that TMP will hit the target of 200,000 unit sales by 2020.
“In 2010, TMP and I envisioned achieving 100,000 unit sales for Toyota by 2018, but we were able to achieve this in 2014, four years earlier than our target. It is very certain that the Philippine automotive market will continue to steadily increase, growing at a very fast rate,” Sugata said.
TMP vice chairman Alfred Ty was equally bullish about the outlook for demand given the strong growth of the Philippine economy.
“That’s five years from now. We have to ramp it up. Basically it’s our internal target and we are optimistic about the Philippine economy. That will be the main driver. We believe that the fundamentals of the economy are very strong, very much in place. And so that will drive the demand in the automotive [market],” Ty said.
He added: “200,000 sounds big from where we are today, but in the Southeast Asian region and considering the number of population we have, we believe it’s achievable. The CARS Program will play a big role. The support of the parts manufacturers will be very important to realize that,” he added.
To date, TMP has already reached 1 million cumulative car sales in the 27 years since its establishment.
Suzuki said Toyota, which has a manufacturing plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, is finalizing its proposal for the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy or CARS program.
Under the CARS program, which was approved by presidential executive order in June 2015, three carmakers would each be given incentives of around P9 billion from the national budget to produce a minimum of 200,000 units of a specific car model over six years, or around 33,000 units a year.
Only two firms have so far expressed intent to apply for incentives under the program — TMP and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. with their model units Vios and Mirage, respectively.
Ty said TMP is “eager” to apply for the CARS Program, confident of the strong reception for its model vehicle Vios.
“The rules, the IRR [implementing rules and regulations]just came out. We’re definitely eager to comply and register our interest right away,” Ty said.
“We believe we have the strong model to register in that CARS program. Yes, the Vios,” he added.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the program is expected to create 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, boost vehicle production levels in the Philippines to 100,000 units a year, attract about P27 billion in new investments in vehicle parts and components, and contribute up to 1.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
WITH KRISTYN NIKA M. LAZO