Automaker says hybrid is the way to go for PH

    New era. The Corolla Altis hybrid is seen helping Filipinos get familiarized with hybrid technology and appreciate its benefits.
    New era. The Corolla Altis hybrid is seen helping Filipinos get familiarized with hybrid technology and appreciate its benefits.

    In a market disrupting move, the country’s largest automotive player is introducing the most affordable hybrid car in the country with the commercial launch of the hybrid variant of its popular sedan.

    Satoru Suzuki, president of Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) Corp. president, said the introduction of the Corolla Altis hybrid is the first step towards the introduction of other hybrid models of Toyota in the Philippines.

    The Philippines becomes the second country in Asean to have the Altis hybrid, after Thailand where the model was introduced last week. The Altis hybrid is made in Thailand.

    The 1.8 liter V HV White Pearl is available at P1.595 million with all other colors at P1.58 million, about P800,000 cheaper than the lowest priced Prius hatchback but still over P300,000 more expensive the published price in Thailand. It is still P400,000 more expensive than the 1.6 CVT fuel-fed variant of the Altis.

    The Altis hybrid is slapped with 50 percent excise tax of the net manufacturing cost and a value-added tax of 12 percent. The hybrid is exempt from duty.

    Suzuki said TMP has yet to make the computation should government consider granting hybrids just like electric vehicles (EVs) excise tax exemption but said this would significantly lower the price of hybrid vehicles.

    The Altis hybrid is seen to account for 7 percent of (15 to 20 units) total Altis sales per month, which is 200 units.

    “We expect government to give support to hybrid models…any support. Now they are thinking of support for the so-called EVs. (We want) the same support… zero excise if possible, free registration, free parking… non-fiscal incentives,” Suzuki told reporters at the launch of the full model change of the Altis in Taguig City yesterday.

    He said the introduction of this hybrid model would help people get familiarized with hybrid “so they will appreciate the benefit of the technology despite the high price level.”

    “We need to promote hybrid more, familiarize these functions to the customers. Then maybe customers will start to appreciate (hybrid), then our volume will get higher,” Suzuki added.

    He said hybrid is the best way to transition from gasoline-fed vehicles before moving to EVs.

    “Hybrid does not require infrastructure, there is no need to be concerned of the battery because if the battery runs out, (the vehicle) runs on gasoline then starts charging again.

    There is no need to be concerned on (the running) distance. It will still need some gasoline (as opposed to an) EV (which) does not need fuel. It’s better to start with this kind of environment-friendly and fuel-efficient model to a final society using EVs,” Suzuki said.

    While Toyota has other hybrid models. Suzuki said “we’re not sure if customers can accept these hybrid models at their price levels.”

    “This is first step to going to more hybrid variations,” he added.

    He noted while the Prius has long been introduced in the Philippines, TMP was selling only one unit per year due to the price constraint. (I. Isip)