Toyota Motor Corporation has announced plans to invest P4.4bn (USD77m) in its Philippines operations to produce a new generation of the Tamaraw utility vehicle, a model that was discontinued in the early 2000s.

The announcement was made this week by Toyota Motor’s president Akio Toyoda during an event at the company’s Santa Rosa plant in Laguna to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Japanese automaker’s presence in the Philippines.

The popular Tamaraw was based on the Kijang utility vehicle that was first produced in Indonesia in the mid-1970s. A few generations of the popular minivan were produced until it was replaced by the Innova in the early 2000s, while the pickup variant survived for a decade or so longer in Indonesia until it too was discontinued. Like the Kijang, the Tamaraw was a popular choice among private motorists and businesses.

Toyota Motor Philippines, Toyota’s local joint venture, aims to begin production of a new generation of the Tamaraw in the third quarter of 2024, with a significant part of the investment going into setting up local component production.

Mr Toyoda pointed out “this is a new model so local component production is needed. Local content should at least be 40%”. He added that discussions are being held with the Philippine Board of Investments on government incentives to support local production of the model.

Toyota said there are no immediate plans to export the new Tamaraw, with production initially aimed mainly at the local market. The new model would be targeted as an affordable utility vehicle for small and medium businesses, potentially for use as an ambulance, patrol car, delivery vehicle, pickup truck and as a modern Jeepney public transport vehicle.

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Local press speculated that the new Tamaraw could look something like the Toyota Rangga concept vehicle unveiled at this year’s Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show.

Recently Toyota launched the all-new Innova Zenix and Yaris Cross in the Philippines.