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30 Years Of Toyota Motor Philippines: You’ve Possibly Been In One, Even If You Didn’t Own One

How an influential car manufacturer became significant in the Philippine and global market.

Toyota has such a great influence that reaches far beyond its cars. Attributing to the company’s success are its principles of operating its company. As an Industrial Engineering Student from DLSU, Toyota was truly embedded in our curriculum, but we did not exactly tackle their cars. Rather, it was how “The Toyota Way” brought the company to become the fifth largest company in the world by revenue as of October, 2017.

The Toyota Way

The Toyota Way are a set of principles that have been embedded into the company culture, and is a key reason for Toyota’s worldwide success. Most notable to many, even to non-Industrial Engineering or Operations Management students, is Toyota’s “kaizen” principle, which translates to “continuous improvement” in English, and this not only applies to its cars. It’s a company principle that tries to eliminate “muda” in all the steps involved in production or even just in the office. The word “muda” translates to “waste” in English, and that reduction in waste both in terms of time wasted and materials wasted has led to the creation of the “Toyota Production System”.

The Toyota Production System encompasses a whole list of principles, which range from Lean Manufacturing, which means eliminating waste as much as possible in the entire manufacturing process, all the way to “just-in-time” (JIT) manufacturing, wherein flow times within a production system, as well as response times from suppliers, are reduced. JIT manufacturing also reduces waste or surplus, because it is only when a need arises when the manufacturing process operates. For JIT to function properly, suppliers must be located in optimum locations such that a short response time is feasible, but that’s another industrial engineering topic worthy of a different article.

Toyota As An Influencer

Of course, it’s not just the principles behind the company’s operations that provided a huge influence to the industry. Toyota’s products, too, are influential around the world. The Toyota Land Cruiser, for instance, is the vehicle choice of the United Nations for its all around ability of being reliable, comfortable, and trustworthy even in the midst of battle. A terrorist organization called the Islamic State of the Iraqi and the Levant even uses the Toyota Hilux in the Middle East, whether for better or worse. Further proving Toyota’s testament to reliability is when the folks at Top Gear UK tried their best to destroy a Hilux, even putting it inside a 23-storey building about to be demolished, and then crashing it into a tree, and finally deliberately sinking it into the beach with all the saltwater corroding the vehicle, and yet, despite all these circumstances, the Hilux kept going.

Not just SUVs and pick-ups does Toyota have such a large influence, but it’s also with the brand’s enthusiast-driven community of AE86, MR2, Supra, Aristo, Corona, and even the newest generation of the Toyota 86. These cars have shaped the global automotive industry as a brand capable of developing affordable yet highly capable and fun-to-drive sports cars that have won the hearts of motoring enthusiasts around the world. The AE86, for instance, has such a huge cult following, appearing on public roads with the famous “Fujiwara Tofu Shop” livery that we’ve come to know and love from the Japanese anime, Initial D.

And then, there are of course, the Toyotas that you and me have probably been in one, whether you are a car enthusiast or not. Toyotas that include the Innova, Hilux, Revo, Tamaraw FX, Corolla, Vios, and Avanza. These Toyotas are not just used by families or individuals. These vehicles are also used by businesses, and as you commute to your work, reading this article on your smartphone, you’re probably in a Toyota Hiace deployed by the UV Express, or a Toyota Vios that you booked using Grab, or even a Toyota Innova that your father probably bought for you family. Toyota’s influence stretches far and wide, from the enthusiasts, all the way to our families, individuals, and even businesses.

As a matter of fact, our family has owned three Toyotas over the years. We’ve owned a Corolla AE92, a Toyota Revo Sport Runner, and a Toyota Innova, the one you see up there. These cars eventually became a household appliance in the same way as a reliable refrigerator. It was dependable, something that you know would start up every time you needed to leave home.

Indeed, Toyota’s influence reaches far flung industries, individuals, and families. It’s astounding that a company can cater to a wide range of customers, even those who seek for a premium way of moving around. Cars like the Toyota Alphard and Land Cruiser have been proven to be a premium vehicle choice for many customers both in the Philippines and around the world. Even if one were to purchase a BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Audi, a Filipino buyer would often cross shop these vehicles with a Toyota Camry, Toyota Alphard, or Toyota Land Cruiser, and let’s not even begin with Toyota’s own luxury marque, Lexus.

Toyota created Lexus, a luxury brand born out of their passion to prove that Japan can compete with European luxury marques. With models ranging from the IS sports sedan to the LS flagship sedan and LC flagship coupe, the Lexus model range encompasses a wide range of premium vehicles to satisfy the public’s demand for premium mobility. Today, the Lexus brand has clearly proven its worth in the global automotive arena when it developed the Lexus LFA supercar. Costing US$375,000 in 2015, the Lexus LFA is right up there with the very best that Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, and the rest of the European supercar industry could make. If anyone asks me what do I consider as one of the best supercars ever built, I often answer the Lexus LFA. With its “eargasmic” 4.8-liter V10 engine, producing 552 hp @ 8,700 rpm and 480 Nm of torque @ 6,800 rpm, with the engine redlining to a stratospheric 9,000 rpm, the Lexus LFA’s engine was beyond legendary, from how quick it revs, to how great it sounds. With a carbon fiber body and only 500 cars produced, the LFA enters the history books as one of Japan’s most valuable cars ever built, and Lexus did not even make any money from the LFA’s MSRP, due to the supercar’s high development cost.

Excellent Products Come and Go

Often, Toyotas have been labelled as “boring” or cars that merely bring you from A to B without any fuss. Lately, Toyota has been reinventing its image as a purveyor of fun-to-drive cars, and testament to this is Toyota Motor Philippines’ creation of the Vios Cup. More than a company creating cars for families, businesses, and individuals, Toyota Motor Philippines is reinventing itself to capture the hearts of car enthusiasts, and with the local launch of the Toyota 86 in 2012, Toyota’s image as a purveyor of adrenaline pumping, sporty cars has slowly been built.

As I’ve driven numerous cars over the years, excellent products certainly come and go, and often, we’ve rated many cars higher than some Toyotas, but if there’s one thing that Toyota is very good at, it would be customer service.

Even if we recommend something over than a certain Toyota, it certainly has almost no effect. While some cars may be better than others, in the end, it is how a brand takes care of its customers which will affect their buying decisions. Toyota Motor Philippines has consistently ranked at the top of the charts when it comes to customer service. Combined with the company’s operating principles on how it treats its people, it is no wonder that the company culture translates to how they take care of their customers and their cars, especially with Toyota’s legendary reliability and quality. For most of the buying public, a reliable and comfortable car is all they need, coupled with legendary customer service that brings a holistic peace of mind that create a loyal following to the Toyota brand.

30 Years Of Being At The Top

With a 38.9 percent market share in 2017, it is clear that Toyota holds a substantial chunk of the automotive industry. Selling 183,908 cars last year, with the Fortuner selling 39,680 units and the Vios selling 36,734 units, these two cars on their own have sales numbers that far outnumber the entire sales of Ford Philippines, which is at fourth place, selling 36,623 cars last year. Not only that, but Toyota has maintained its Triple Crown for 16 years in a row, being the largest car manufacturer in passenger car sales, commercial vehicle sales, and overall vehicle sales.

With the launch of the Toyota Rush and new Vios this year, we expect the brand to continue performing at the top of the automotive food chain. Just like Coca-Cola, Toyota has become a household name here in the Philippines. Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation is celebrating its 30th year in the Philippine market on August 5, 2018, but if you count Toyota’s existence in the Philippines when it was still under Delta Motors, the brand’s existence spans almost 60 years. Happy 30th Birthday, Toyota Motor Philippines!

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