By Gabriel Pabico Lalu, Inquirer News
TOKYO, Japan — The workhorse of a vehicle that became a mainstay in Philippine roads since the early 1990s will be back with a better, cleaner engine, one of the Japanese carmaker’s officials assured the public on Saturday.
In an interview on the sidelines of a dinner they hosted for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s delegation and the media here, Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation (TMPC) president Atsuhiro Okamoto said that the new version of the beloved Tamaraw FX — currently designated as IMV-0 or the Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle — will still have a diesel engine.
However, it would be a clean one, he noted.
“We were committed to invest the P4.4 billion for light commercial vehicle — LCV, that’s called in Toyota IMV (Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle)-zero project, like do you know the Tamaraw in the past? It’s the new generation Tamaraw project, we will enter this in the IMV-zero in the near future. Of course local production, manufacturing,” he said.
“Basically FR, but the same as current Hilux, basically same structure. Diesel, basically diesel engine […] Cleaner engine, clean diesel,” he added.
To address concerns about clean emissions, Okamoto said they are studying the possibility of modifying the power delivery of the new Tamaraw FX instead of solely relying on internal combustion engines (ICE).
However, he clarified that ICEs — or engines that allow a compressed air-fuel mixture to detonate inside the block at the expense of exhaust particles — are not the problem.
Rather, the main concern is lowering carbon emissions — especially since using electric vehicles in the Philippine setup would still yield a huge carbon footprint due to the fact that electricity and energy in the country still come from fossil fuels and coal.
“BEV (battery electric vehicle) is one of the methods for carbon neutrality. Our enemy is carbon, yes, not ICE, so we will prepare all the variants for carbon neutrality, not only the EV but also hybrid, probably hybrid, even hydrogen, we will prepare,” he said.
“Multiple path, solution, we will prepare. Of course BEV is one of the solutions, but if we only prepare BEV, many customers are worried facing the carbon because in the Philippines, the electric is very expensive. Also, how to generate electric? Still, the coal is the majority, it’s generating carbon,” he added.
Earlier, Marcos confirmed that the legendary Tamaraw FX would be revived, in a commitment made by Toyota to the Philippines.
The Toyota Tamaraw FX is considered the precursor of the vans in the UV Express system, a mass transport scheme that makes use of vehicles with a capacity of more than six people, traveling from point to point.
Okamoto said the new Tamaraw would take its lead from the old Tamaraw’s platform — an FR or a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive vehicle built on the same rigid ladder frame as the Toyota Hilux.
But it would no longer focus on transporting people: there would be options for a customizable bed with either dropsides, container vans, and other items.
This, Okamoto said, would ensure that micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) would have a workhorse to help their business flourish especially with the Hilux costing more.
“Basically the light commercial, one-ton commercial truck but we will produce different chassis, upper body conversion is very flexible, the utility, I mean, you want dropside? Anything is available for IMV. So not only commercial, but also personalization, utility van also, the many variants of conversion, we will prepare,” he said.
“We want to contribute to the Philippine society, industry, especially MSMEs, but current Hilux, the price position is a little bit higher, so we need to introduce more affordable commercial vehicles for MSMEs, especially micro and small enterprises,” he added.
During his official visit to Japan, Marcos met with several stakeholders of different Japanese industries — from automotive, tourism, semiconductor and electronics, and others — to urge them to make investments in the country.
A series of agreements and letters of intent have been signed between the two sides over the span of three days.
The new Tamaraw FX is expected to be a completely knockdown (CKD) build, which means parts would arrive in the country and would be assembled in TMPC’s headquarters in Santa Rosa, Laguna.
Marcos is expected to leave for Manila on Sunday, after meeting members of the press and the Filipino community in Japan. He left Manila for Tokyo last February 8.