Politics

Mobility for all, one solution at a time

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Toyota Motor Philippines spins off a new subsidiary to focus on usership and other solutions to get us and our stuff moving

By Kap Maceda Aguila

FOR TOYOTA in the Philippines, success has clearly become a habit, as evidenced by its 20 straight years of holding the so-called “triple crown” in the business — leading the auto sector in passenger car, commercial vehicle, and total sales. And it seems that Toyota, by and large, has had the Midas touch in anything it embarks on.

But verily, size alone is not the be-all and end-all of any company worth its salt. It’s about making a positive difference in the most number of lives.

Last Friday, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) unveiled a wholly owned spinoff that endeavors to do just that, while opening a whole new revenue stream for the company.

Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines, Inc. (TMSPH) will see the Japan-headquartered brand venturing into “the development and offering of a range of ‘new mobility solutions’ that will enhance (Toyota’s credentials as a marque) that creates value for society through a service business model. Along with automotive manufacturing and distribution businesses, TMP furthers its effort to provide safety and comfort for Filipinos with TMSPH’s Vehicle Usership (VU) platforms, available for individuals and the business sector.”

In a release, TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto said that TMSPH will “better shape the industry’s role in building our modern societies and enriching human lives” while accelerating toward Toyota’s “global mission to ‘Produce Happiness for All’ and vision to create ‘Mobility for All’.”

To be headed by longtime TMP executive Ma. Cristina Fe “Tini” Arevalo, the subsidiary’s focus on new mobility entails using technology and business solutions in order to move people and goods. It is a logistics and transportation partner for businesses of all sizes (with a special focus on micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises), and a mobility enabler for people who may not have the appetite or means to acquire a vehicle in the traditional ownership sense (please see our interview with Ms. Arevalo below).

The initial offerings being rolled out by the company include a fleet-connected service, on-demand shuttle booking app, car sharing or rental, a logistics matching service, and fleet management service. TMSPH will work with Toyota Financial Services Philippines Corp. “in promoting and managing units under its full operating lease product called Kinto.”

For TMP Chairman Alfred Ty, the solutions being brought forth by TMSPH also reflect a changing of focus from ownership to usership. In a speech, he said, “These two streams compel us to shift from just being a manufacturer and retailer of motor vehicles to being a full-scale mobility solutions provider. This is, in fact, our very inspiration for today’s launch of Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines: To continue in our promise of producing happiness and winning the smiles of Filipinos by creating mobility for all.”

The inauguration of TMSPH comes as TMP celebrates its 34th year, and follows the attainment of a milestone in March — the sale of the two-millionth Toyota here. Mr. Ty added that the company expects to “cross the one-million mark in local production that started in its Bicutan factory and now continues in its world-class Toyota Santa Rosa plant.” Additionally, the company expects to reach one million units in cumulative sales at the end of 2022. Today, the Philippines ranks as the 10th largest market for Toyota globally.

TMP said that the TMSPH is the “first of its kind among Toyota affiliates in the Southeast Asian region,” and “is projected to modernize domestic mobility systems and Internet of Things (IoT), potentially creating employment opportunities for technical but customer-centric professionals.”

The question then: What makes the Philippines just the market to introduce these solutions and services? Replying to “Velocity” during the Q&A session after the launch, TMP Director Vince Socco said, “We have the youngest population in the ASEAN region. (We’ve seen them as) very open to new sorts of technologies and possibilities. And I think that’s one of the reasons that we felt there is an extremely ripe opportunity for us to exploit.”

The timing could not be better as well, insisted Mr. Socco. The Philippine economy has been on the rebound with 6% growth, and the executive shared that the future appears even brighter with 7% or even 8% economic growth.

“We believe that motorization will continue to expand. As mentioned by Chairman Ty, the current density of vehicle population in the Philippines per 1,000 people is only 41. It’s the lowest in the region, I think, just above Vietnam — but below Singapore, below Thailand, below even Indonesia. So, with this economic growth, there is certainly an opportunity again for us to be able to partner not necessarily with private owners but, more importantly, with business owners. We believe this is still an untapped segment of the market. And when we talk about business owners, the necessity of productivity solutions and efficiency solutions are all that more important,” he posited.

These two factors — the adaptability of the Filipino people and the ubiquity of MSMEs — are seen by Toyota as making for a very ripe opportunity for TMSPH and its portfolio of services. “We have to forward the agenda,” declared Mr. Socco.

“Just to clarify, we’re not exactly shifting from ownership to usership,” expressed Ms. Arevalo. “What we’re doing is offering an alternative for those who, first, do not want to own vehicles because they want to be asset light, or they don’t want the usual hassle (of) attending to monitoring its mileage for servicing and renewal of registration or insurance. It’s really a lot of work, right?”

She continued, “So, if you’re the type of person or organization who doesn’t want to own vehicles, but you need them anyway, then you have this option like Kinto One… If you’re an individual who needs vehicles only from time to time, so maybe it’s not really practical for you to own one, then you have car sharing or car rental… it’s a 24/7 that can be booked online. It’s unmanned so you can just go to the car and unlock it with a digital key. So it’s really just about providing an option — not exactly shifting from ownership to usership.”

Concluded Ms. Arevalo, “What we’re trying to establish here is providing a means for people to move, whether it’s through ownership or usership, and our usership platforms can range from just by-the-hour rental up to three years, five years, depending on your needs.”