Carmakers scramble to fill Class 1 modern jeepney void

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    JUST a month apart from each other car makers Toyota and Hyundai enter the Class 1 modern public utility vehicle market with their respective offerings built on workhorse cab-chassis vehicles in their line-up.

    Last October, Hyundai Automotive Resources, Inc. showed off its initial H-100 based jeepney and just last week, Toyota Motor Philippines, Inc. presented its own prototype to the Department of Transportation (DOTr). Both vehicles follow the Philippine National Standards (PNS) specifications for Class 1 PUVMP.

    Under the standards and usage applications, the Class 1 PUVMP is a side-facing 12-seater (driver included) with side loading doors and air-conditioning with provisions for cashless payment interfaces, CCTV and other innovations. It is meant to serve in the country’s inner-city roads and smaller municipalities.

    The target price for this class of vehicle, would be P1M and below.

    So far, Toyota announced that its Hi-Lux based PUVMP will cost only P998K.

    The target price for this class of vehicle, would be P1M and below.

    So far, Toyota announced that its’ Hi-Lux based PUVMP will cost only P998K.

    Hyundai’s H-100 Class 1 vehicle is powered by a 2.5L CRDi diesel engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. It has a maximum output of 130ps and torque 26 kg-m at 1,500 rpm. Moreover, being a flat-nose set-up there is more room for a more centrally located passenger cab.

    Toyota’s prototype sits on the battle-tested and proven Toyota Hi-Lux chassis. With the 2.4L 2GD-normally aspirated engine that can produce a maximum of 147 hp with 343 Nm of torque. The Toyota modern jeepney will use a standard 6-speed transmission.

    “Using the existing cab-and-engine chassis is a practical approach, though Hyundai’s configuration seems to be more acceptable versus the pick-up configuration of Toyota,” Armand Agustin, a Filipino vehicle engineer working in a Thailand mass transit conglomerate, Bangkok Mass Transport Authority.

    Two models. Toyota’s Hi-Lux
    Two models. Toyota’s Hi-Lux

    “The pick-up with passenger cab is a popular platform in Thailand, and I think this is the basis for the Toyota prototype. The chassis and engine itself will be able to pull the load of 12 passengers and the weight of the passenger shell itself. In Thailand this kind of transporter is not airconditioned and is regulated in its distance and locales of operation,” Agustin clarified.

    In the radio show Turbo Time with Mike and Lindy, on 92.3, the newly unveiled prototype PUV was given varying comments by listeners, ranging from it being “ugly and flawed” to its being “a practical solution to the transport problem.”

    Netizens also commented harshly on the Toyota prototype on the Department of Transportation’s Facebook page where it was launched. Some said that the vehicle would add to the country’s worsening traffic congestion due to its smaller passenger capacity.

    Two models. Hyundai’s Class 1 modern jeeps.
    Two models. Hyundai’s Class 1 modern jeeps.

    The DOTr quickly came to its defense saying that it was really not large, and was entirely up to the operator to choose such a vehicle size, depending on their routes and needs.

    “If operators want a more spacious and bigger unit, they can opt to purchase a Class 2 vehicle,” the DOTr comment said. It also clarified that Toyota’s Class 1 PUV, “was also meant to prove that the government’s PUV modernization program need not be overly expensive.”

    Currently Class 2 and 3 modern PUVs cost from P1.8 to 2.6 million but these vehicles can seat twice or carry thrice (including standing) the number of passengers.

    Two other companies have earlier produced prototypes which eventually developed into production models under this classification. Tata produced a multi-cab 10 seater while Mahindra built and sold under the “Dyip Ko, Dyip Natin” cooperative a 12-seater modern PUV with a small footprint.

    “It’s also a better alternative when public transport demand is not yet that high to warrant a bigger mode of public transportation,” the DOTr said, speaking about the need for smaller Class 1 public utility passenger transport vehicles.