Hybrid cars not catching on in Philippines
MANILA, Philippines - Toyota's Prius may be the 3rd best-selling car line in the world but in the Philippines Toyota is lucky to sell 3 vehicles a month.
Hybrids haven't caught on with the Philippine population, largely due to cost concerns, said executives with Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) in an interview with Rappler on August 16.
"Unfortunately, the Philippine automotive market is not yet so mature in terms of hybrid technology… Even for other distributors their hybrid models are not so popular [in the Philippines]," said Elijah Marcial TMP's sales planning supervisor.
Toyota launched 7 new car brands in the first 6 months of the year -- The Prius C in January, the Avanza in January, the Innova in February, the Land Cruiser in February, the Camry in April, the Vios in May, and the Toyota 86 in July -- one of them was a hybrid.
Though the Prius C, Toyota's compact hybrid, hit the local market 8 months ago, its hard to tell the car is even being sold in the country.
It's extremely rare to see a Prius on city streets since, on average, only one to two are sold per month.
Other locally produced brands, like Toyota's Vios and Innova, sell on average 1,500 and 1,200 vehicles every month.
|Prius C||Compact Hybrid||January'12||1-2|
Large Sport Utility
|Toyota 86||Sports Sedan||July'12||3|
*Data courtesy of Toyota Motor Philippines
"Especially for hybrid vehicles we have a very small market in the Philippines maybe because of the prices so we are looking for additional incentives to maybe lower the price," said Carina V. Esmile, Vice President of Toyota Motor Philippines.
"Right now the price is not that affordable, the sales are very low," she added. Locally a Prius C sells for around P1.5 million. "An Altis which has the same engine is about P300,000 to P500,000 [less]," explained Marcial.
"It's just that it's really expensive… it would take many years to get back the P500,000 in terms of fuel saving," said Marcial.
Another model for green vehicles
In environmentally conscious California, demand is brisk for the fuel efficient vehicle. In the past, Toyota has resorted to making customers sign up for waiting lists to get their cars.
The Prius is actually considered a relatively good buy since California offers tax incentives to help cover the premium early adopters pay for new hybrid technology.
For example, California customers who buy the Prius Plug-In are eligible for as much as $4,000 or nearly P170,000 in rebates and tax credits under the State of California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program.
Conversely, Esmile said customs duties in the Philippines actually make the Prius more expensive. She said "Customs duty on the Prius is 20% (since) the unit is from Japan."
Marcial explained that the government doesn't give incentives to make it worthwhile for customers to buy more environmentally friendly vehicles.
"We've been lobbying for a tax incentive for many years so we hope the government will finally see the advantage of it," she said. - Rappler.com