MANILA — Indian carmaker Tata Motors plans to manufacture in the Philippines and targets to join the Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program through its local distributor Pilipinas Taj Autogroup, Inc.
In an interview Tuesday, Pilipinas Taj Vice President and General Manager Arthur Balmadrid said the company plans to locally assemble three models of Tata in the Philippines, particularly the 12-seater Ace, 16-seater Super Ace, and the 22-seater SFC 407, which can also qualify to the PUV Modernization Program of the government.
“We plan to do local assembly, especially for this upcoming PUV Modernization Program,” Balmadrid told reporters.
He added that the Ace model can replace the Filipino multicabs and can also qualify in the modernization program’s Class 1 jeepney along with the Super Ace model.
On the other hand, the SFC 407 model can enter the PUV Modernization Program for jeepney’s Classes 2, 3, and 4.
Balmadrid noted that the planned assembly here of Tata Motors is vital for the Philippines, since the Indian car manufacturer has production activities in other Southeast Asian markets like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, but has no manufacturing facility in these countries.
He added that the Philippines can also be the production hub for SFC 407 model in ASEAN, as the three other ASEAN countries where Tata Motors is present do not assemble this vehicle.
Although Balmadrid did not mention the value of investment for local assembly, the Pilipans Taj executive said the investments here would be 100-percent Filipino, while Tata Motors will only provide the technical support.
Moreover, as the government eyes to provide incentives for car companies that will participate in the PUV Modernization Program, Balmadrid said completely built-up (CBU) vehicles should not qualify for the government perks.
“We would like to push for localized PUV. Even us, we consider to localize even the platform for our three models that will be used for the PUV Modernization Program. We are seriously considering having it locally assembled. We want to create additional employment,”
-Arthur Balmadrid, Pilipinas Taj General Manager
He added that the localization component under the PUV Modernization Program should be at least 45 to 50 percent.
But even without the incentive package, Balmadrid said the company will still push for local assembly of Tata’s small commercial vehicles such as Ace, Super Ace, and SFC 407, with the growing demand in this category.
He said local demand for small commercial vehicles reach 2,000 to 3,000 units a month.
“This is not necessarily for jeepney modernization program. The demand for small commercial vehicle is just big,” Balmadrid said.