MANILA — Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) will open its P4.5-billion vehicle logistics hub in Batangas by late 2021, the company said on Saturday, in a bid to expand its operations in the country despite the pandemic pinch.
The 32-hectare facility is seated near Batangas Port, and boasts of a pre-delivery inspection and post production installation facility capable of handling some 160,000 Toyota units annually, TMP said in a statement.
The new facility also has a stockyard that can house at least 4,500 cars at a time, and an 18-truck lane covered car carrier loading and unloading area.
TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto hoped that the operations of the new hub would help in reviving the Philippine economy battered by the pandemic, noting that the auto industry remains a “key driver of economic activity.”
“TMP remains committed to supporting the goal of the government to stimulate the economy and to prepare for the eventual resumption of motorization in the country. The… industry is… an essential part of the drive to increase mobility,” Okamoto said.
The country posted a negative full year growth of -9.5 percent in 2020 as the COVID-19 crisis persisted, making it the steepest post-war slump in Philippine history.
Toyota Philippines Chairman Alfred Ty, meanwhile, said that he was optimistic for the auto industry’s recovery this year, citing both the public and the private sector’s efforts in improving market conditions and the business environment.
He also pointed out that Toyota was able to sell 100,019 units in 2020, expanding its market share at 41.3 percent, despite lower projected sales because of the lockdowns.
Toyota officers also noted the impact of the government’s recent imposition of “safeguard duties'' on imported passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. This aims to protect the country’s car-making industry hit hard by the pandemic.
"With the recent announcement of Safeguard duties, market recovery will be adversely affected and growth may be much more limited, as early as when provisional duties are implemented... will maximize efforts to promote sales of our Vios and Innova to cushion the impact of safeguard duties,” Okamoto said.
TMP is among 2 companies that sells both locally-made and imported vehicles in the country.
The vehicle industry is among the hardest hit by the pandemic. An industry group had said that vehicle sales fell more than 40 percent last year as more people were confined in their homes because of transport restrictions.
The Department of Trade and Industry earlier this week confirmed that Japan's Nissan Motor will stop its Philippine car assembly operations, and will shut down by March this year.
Nissan Motor Co. in May last year planned to cut over 20,000 jobs, about 15 percent of its global workforce, as part of a restructuring plan due to slumping sales amid COVID-19.
Honda Cars Philippines Inc. in March last year, meanwhile, closed its automobile production operations in Laguna as part of its “optimization efforts in the production operations in Asia.”
The Philippines' motor vehicle manufacturing sector employed nearly 90,000 workers as of 2018, government data showed.
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— With reports from Reuters, Kyodo News