Despite the prevailing negative mood of the local automotive industry, there are still some models that are surprisingly oversubscribed with the local manufacturers/distributors unable to fulfill current local demand.
The two cars that stand out in this curious situation are high-profile niche models from Toyota.
First is the Gazoo Racing Toyota Yaris GR4, a rally homologation special that definitely brings fun and performance back at a more palatable (for Toyota enthusiasts) price point. The Yaris GR4 is powered by a 1.6 liter turbocharged 3-cylinder direct injected engine producing 261hp and 360 Newton-Meters of torque, driving all four wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission in a 1,280kg 3-door hatchback package. The overall footprint makes the Yaris a perfectly useable performance car on our race tracks, temporary auto-cross parking lots and of course tight winding roads. A few months prior to its official release, a handful of grey-market importers brought a few units in at a mouth-watering P3.9 million thereabouts.
It was a massive jump from the projected P2.7 million SRP Toyota Motors Philippines was unofficially at that time suggesting. But grey-market importers countered that their units would be better equipped than the local Toyota units. A handful of enthusiasts bit the bullet and bought these limited grey imports. Fast forward a few months, and suddenly, Toyota has a smashing success.
From a rumored 180 initial allocated units, it dropped to 150 units and dropped further again to 120 units. Many enthusiasts were disappointed Toyota could not secure more Yaris GR4s for the local market as their deposits were returned. With a planned production of 25,000 units for the Yaris GR4 in all markets worldwide, in both LHD and RHD trim, plus the cost of manufacturing for a behemoth like Toyota, it seems highly unlikely that the Philippines will ever receive more in the future, thus cementing the Yaris as a solid investment in the Philippines. A few resellers are now offering their Yaris GR4s for P3.3-3.4 million, representing a P600,000 profit. Another option is to buy a grey-market unit with no warranty and priced even higher.
The other vehicle in Toyota’s stable that’s in even higher demand nowadays is the long awaited and much anticipated full-sized SUV, the Land Cruiser LC300. It’s a favorite of captains of industry, politicians and of course discerning 4×4 enthusiasts who desire both power, performance and unparalleled reliability. The new 3.3 CRDI V6 twin turbo diesel makes 309hp and a rotation-stopping 700 Newton-Meters of torque driving all four wheels via a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Toyota Motors Philippines has always had difficulty supplying enough of these units to the local market, from the LC80 of the 1990s to the LC100 and LC200 generations throughout the 2000s and up until last year.
The LC300 looks to be no different. The local top-spec ZX model is priced at P5.6 million while the VX fetches for P5.2 million but despite the price, at least four different Toyota dealerships said their allocations are sold out and TMP has yet to give a commitment on when the local market will receive the next allocation and how many units will that be.
Of course, grey-market importers see another opportunity and have thus started offering parallel imports, usually from the United Arab Emirates. These grey-import Land Cruisers also cost more than the local units which enjoy JPEPA tax incentives. And yet they still sell briskly. A comparable diesel twin-turbo LC300 was quoted by a grey-market importer at roughly P7.8 million from Dubai, more than P2 million higher than the local ZX variant. With the campaign season and elections coming up, expect conspicuous consumption for large SUVs like the Land Cruiser LC300 to go up.
Truth to tell is that if you’re lucky to secure either of these Toyotas, they are worth their weight in gold.
A car enthusiast through and through, Botchi Santos believes that different people have different needs. He tries to find the best car for a specific audience, and spruces things up by delving into car culture, helping make the local car community vibrant and enjoyable for all. His passion for motoring is built around a belief that cars are among the top three life purchases.