MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine unit of Japan’s Isuzu Motors Ltd. is looking to expand its locally manufactured offerings in the country through the assembly of heavy-duty trucks amid increasing demand.
“We’re studying if we can produce the bigger trucks, those in Category 4 and 5. We are doing some trials,” Arthur Balmadrid, senior vice president for sales at Isuzu Philippines Corp. (IPC) said in a chance interview.
The study to locally manufacture heavy-duty trucks is being undertaken amid strong demand from businesses.
IPC marketing head Joseph Bautista said sales of Isuzu heavy-duty trucks are now growing by 20 to 30 percent from just 10 percent previously.
“The customers now realize the value of buying brand new. Those who were buying second-hand are having problems with their deliveries. They are realizing it is economical to buy brand new units,” he said.
Balmadrid said IPC is also benefitting from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s plan to phase out 15-year old trucks as companies are now opting to buy brand new units.
For Isuzu, the local assembly of heavy-duty trucks may not require huge amount of investments, as the firm’s plant in Laguna already has an existing assembly line for light-duty trucks.
“Trucks are easy to assemble. We are checking if the existing truck line can be used,” he said.
IPC currently assembles the N series and F series trucks as well as the D-Max pickup and Crosswind Asian utility vehicle in its plant in Binan, Laguna.
The heavy-duty trucks and mu-X sports utility vehicle, are imported.
“We are still pushing for CKD (completely knocked down) units,” Bautista said noting the plant is not yet fully utilized.
While IPC’s plant has an annual capacity of 15,000 units on one shift, total production this year is expected to reach only 12,000 units.
Amid favorable economic conditions and anticipated strong demand for vehicles in the country, Bautista is upbeat IPC can hit its target sales of 18,000 units this year.
As of end-March, IPC has sold 4,957 units, 61.6 percent higher year-on-year.
Last year, IPC sold a total of 14,134 units.
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