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Biz Buzz: Biggest Japan trip winner

Biz Buzz: Biggest Japan trip winner

By Dax Lucas, Inquirer Business

At a projected value of P4.4 billion for its local production line, the deal announced by Toyota Motor Philippines looks relatively small in the total $13-billion investment haul of President Marcos from his Japan trip last week.

Yet there is no arguing that this plan to revive the iconic Toyota Tamaraw line—known for its durability and reliability since its first incarnation in the late 1970s to early 1980s, to its second life in the 1990s—has generated the most buzz among all the deals announced during the Chief Executive’s official visit to Tokyo.

And even though it will take five years for the new Tamaraw to hit local streets, it’s already a marketing winner this early.

“The concept of the new vehicle is multipurpose, really designed to support SMEs,” Toyota Motor Philippines chair Alfred Ty told Biz Buzz. “It could be a cargo van, it can be a people mover and can be a food truck, all convertible in the same day.”

“It will be a real workhorse,” he added. “And what better way to describe this than the Tamaraw.”

Don’t expect the new Toyota vehicle to be as basic and spartan as its earlier editions though. Our friends in Toyota hint that the future Tamaraw will be developed with modern technology in its body form as well as in its internal features.

Specifically, it will be “connected-device ready,” especially for a global positioning system.

And why did Toyota decide to revive the Tamaraw line rather than just launch the vehicle under a new name?

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“Tamaraw is near and dear to Filipinos,” one insider said. “It’s been the vehicle of choice and has become a genre in itself. Tapping into the brand equity makes sense.”

The key for Toyota, we’re told, is to keep production costs manageable to ensure that the new Tamaraw will be competitive with the offerings of other manufacturers around the region.

But this early, it already sounds like a winner.

FILE PHOTO: Presidential Communications Office