By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT

Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP), the country’s largest car company, has acknowledged that while it continued to import vehicles to meet local demand it also said that producing vehicles locally is an even more essential part of the economic recovery efforts of the government.

 This was stressed by Vince Socco, chairman of GT Capital Auto Dealership Holdings during the year’s first Media Lunch with TMP on Monday at Grand Hyatt Manila. GT Capital Auto is essentially in charge of GT Capital-owned Toyota dealerships. GT Capital Holdings is the mother company that operates both Toyota Motor Philippines and Metrobank of the Ty Group.

vince socco - TMP bats for primacy of local production
Vince Socco, chairman of GT Capital Auto Dealership Holdings

  TMP is one of two participants, the other being Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp., in the incentive driven Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) Program of the Board of Investments. TMP is producing the VIOS model at its Sta. Rosa, Laguna plant. 

Socco cited the need to support economic recovery and the role that the automotive industry plays, particularly local production. “Our operations in Santa Rosa – as with Mitsubishi – have a multiplier effect on the economy and that is why it is a very vital part of the restart of the manufacturing industry,” said Socco in a speech. This is because its entire supply chain of 55,000 Filipinos – factory workers, local suppliers, logistics providers, dealers and business partners – which are all depending on the increase in local production and overall sales.

The narrative “Gawa ng Pinoy, Para sa Pinoy is an important story to tell in our partnership with the Philippine government towards rebuilding our nation. While we continue to import vehicles to meet the growing and diverse mobility needs of the country, we have no doubt that producing vehicles locally is an even more essential part of the economic recovery efforts of the government.”

He urged for more engagement on the topic about the primacy of local production.

TMP Chairman Alfred Ty cited the role of the automotive industry to be the drivers in restarting the economy. Ty said TMP supports the country’s initiative to gradually open up the economy. 

Alfred Ty - TMP bats for primacy of local production
TMP Chairman, Alfred V. Ty

“We understand that we have to co-exist with COVID while remaining vigilant and safe.    We cannot stay in ECQ mode indefinitely.  We need to take small steps in line with the guidance of the government. We would like to promote awareness about the big role of the automotive industry towards economic recovery.  We would like to send a message of hope that while there are continuing challenges brought about by the big volume reduction, the automotive industry is doing its best to gradually recover production, sales and service,” Ty said.  

Ty admitted that in its 32-year history, 2020 is the most challenging by far.  The year started with the eruption of Taal Volcano which had temporarily impacted some of its production, logistics, supply chain and dealer operations.  Little did they know that it was some form of preparation on what is to happen next.  “From the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine 8 months ago to where we stand today, we have experienced and learned so much,” he added.   

TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto said that during this pandemic, the company prioritize the welfare of its team members by conducting regular testing, health education and strict enforcement of health protocols.  Recently, TMP resumed to 2-shift operations in line with market recovery and in preparation for better sales as economy opens up.

TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto 574x1024 - TMP bats for primacy of local production
TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto (File Photo)

TMP also took the opportunity of the pandemic to reinforce its customer relations, adjust dealer operations by implementing strict safety protocols, enhancing online touchpoints, door to door service,  resulting to increasing customer visits again lately. 

Okamoto said they supported its local suppliers by continuing both CKD production and CBU logistics operations, accelerated digital transformation by developing tools that will provide seamless customer experience on the front-end, and efficient operations on the back-end with the use of technology.  They even managed to roll-out new models, 5 for Toyota and recently 1 more for Lexus to excite the market, stimulate sales, leading to restarting the economy and faster recovery.

As the company initiated its transition from an automotive company to a mobility company, TMP also launched its new mobility products such as Kinto One Subscription Service, Connected Auto Loans, and On-demand shuttle.

“I am confident that we are prepared and positioned for growth beyond COVID,” Okamoto said in his closing remark.

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