For this year’s award, we recognize all the incredible and outstanding efforts and achievements that Toyota Motor Philippines and Lexus Manila Inc. Chairman Mr. Alfred V. Ty has accomplished. As the head of 18 different companies, his generosity, hard work and service to the automotive industry continues to elevate the lives of Filipinos around the country.
Can you describe how you first became involved in the automotive industry?
My first brush with the industry started with Toyota’s fourth dealer in the country, Toyota Cubao. In retrospect, it was the natural first place to start because, as I learned only too quickly, Toyota is a very customer-centric organization where “Customer First” was a way of life, not a mere slogan. My time with Toyota Cubao gave me first-hand exposure to customer behavior. In 1992, I joined the Manufacturing Division of Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) to learn about Toyota’s renowned Toyota Production System. From there, I moved to the Sales Planning Department of the Marketing Division where I got exposed to the fundamentals of product development, dealer franchise management, marketing planning and advertising.
How did your relationship with Toyota and Lexus begin?
My relationship with Toyota started even before TMP was established. My first car was a Toyota Celica, which I had for my college years. After college in 1989, I had a one-year stint gaining work experience in Japan that introduced me to the various fields of manufacturing and parts production. When I finally joined TMP in 1992, I had a deeper understanding and appreciation of the brand – not just its vehicles, but also its operations and the values and culture of the company.
The introduction of Lexus to the Philippines was one of my dreams that took seed in the early 2000s. I had a personal affinity not only with the brand but, more importantly, with its promise of the “relentless pursuit of perfection”. The introduction of Lexus in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig in 2009 was very exciting. It allowed us to reach out to the luxury market. To preserve the high level of expectations in the luxury segment, it was a deliberate decision to only operate with one dealership. This allowed our team to understand this market segment carefully and be able to cater to discerning demands.
What can you attribute to Toyota’s continued success through the years?
In the 33 years of Toyota in the Philippines, I attribute its sustained presence and leadership to its core philosophy of Number One Customer Satisfaction and Number One Quality in all aspects. For Toyota to become the leading automotive company in the country, we had to work very hard to earn and maintain our customers’ trust. Around the world, Toyota was already a trusted household name that was well known for its quality, durability, and reliability. It was our responsibility to create and deliver the same global standards of Quality and Customer Satisfaction in the Philippines; the Filipinos deserve – and demand – no less. Our customers’ needs have always been of the utmost importance. We take pride in our continuous efforts to provide a seamless, convenient, and, above all, a reassuring vehicle purchase and ownership experience. In the spirit of “kaizen” or “continuous improvement”, our pursuit for fun-to-drive and ever-better cars promises even more exciting possibilities in the future.
More than just its brand name and its reputation, Toyota is about our team members – at TMP, our dealers, suppliers, and business partners. Our commitment to providing ever-better products and services to our customers is an individual and collective effort of every member. I believe this is the main reason why we have successfully turned Toyota into a global brand with a Filipino heart.
What accomplishments have you been most proud of in the last 5 years?
The most humbling accomplishment for Team Toyota Philippines is the growth and sustainment of local production in the country. It has proven that the Filipino is capable of locally producing world-class quality vehicles. We proudly build the Vios and Innova at our factory in Santa Rosa. Through our local production operations, we have provided jobs for over 40,000 Filipinos. The automotive industry has one of the highest multiplier effects of any industry so our contribution to the local economy in terms of value creation has been quite significant through our last three decades of operation. This was the vision and continuing source of inspiration for my late father and TMP founding-Chairman, Dr. George S.K. Ty and it continues to be so for me, the Ty family and Team Toyota Philippines – to be a partner in nation building.
In the past five years, one of the biggest milestones for us was the enrolment of the Vios in the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program of the government. Although we have been locally producing the Vios since 2007, our participation in CARS started in 2018. Under the program, we are committed to producing 200,000 Vios units locally. This entailed significant investments in our factory and local component-making capabilities. The Vios has been the most loved vehicle in the country for 13 of the last 14 years and is a clear vote of trust in our efforts to build cars by Filipinos, for Filipinos.
In addition to the Vios, we also locally produce the Innova at our factory in Santa Rosa. The Innova is a mainstay in the top five best-selling models in the country and has a long heritage of affinity with the Philippines. It started as the Tamaraw, evolved to the ubiquitous FX then Revo and now, the Innova. It is a class on its own and continues to enjoy much popularity among Filipinos.
Beyond our local production, we have marked several other milestones for both Toyota and Lexus in the recent past. In the area of vehicle sales and model launches, TMP hosted the global premiere of the new Hiace, a tribute to the Philippines being the biggest market for this model outside of Japan. We also introduced the GR Supra which paved the way for the resurgence of interest in Toyota’s performance cars under Gazoo Racing. Our pioneering efforts like the introduction of Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) that are increasingly coming within reach of the Filipino car buyers continues to impact our efforts at shaping the future of mobility in the country. We achieved record-breaking sales in 2017, a total of 182,837 units sold for TMP, including over 1,000 units sold for Lexus Manila. From 2017-2019, TMP ranked 9th in global sales alongside the more developed markets of the USA, China, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia.
I believe that TMP has been a driver of motorization in the country. Our extensive line-up of Toyota models serves a wide range of transport needs across the country. I am also particularly proud of our being able to serve Filipinos with the largest network of full-service dealers spanning the entire Philippines. As market leader, Toyota helped propel sales of the automotive market as it grew at double digit rates from 2012 to its peak in 2017. Due to that surge, the industry attracted almost every mainstream auto brand to our shores – now numbering 46, in all – and it put the Philippines on the map as a viable investment location for automakers.
As part of our strong commitment to giving back to society and providing mobility for all, TMP donated 20 Vios units and 10 Innova units to the Philippine Government during our 30th anniversary back in 2018 – a total of 30 locally manufactured vehicles symbolizing three wonderful decades of providing ever-better cars and ever-better lives for Filipinos. In 2020, recognizing the outstanding strength and courage of our healthcare workers in the fight against COVID, we donated another 30 Vios units to various public hospitals and local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila and Santa Rosa. We also deployed 50 Toyota vehicles for extended use of our frontliners from hospitals, LGUs, and volunteer groups. As well, we provided 10 connected and sanitized shuttles to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) health workers in partnership with the Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF) of Toyota Motor Corporation.
To date, our world-class technical training school – Toyota Motor Philippines School of Technology, Inc. (TMP Tech) – has been able to produce 1,402 graduates and assist 635 scholars.
This year – 2021 – we are celebrating 33 years of partnership with Toyota and the Philippines. Our 20th consecutive Triple Crown (#1 Passenger Car Sales, #1 Commercial Vehicle Sales, #1 Overall Sales) is squarely in sight. We recently opened dealers in Dipolog and Lucena, bringing our count to 73 dealers nationwide for both Toyota and Lexus. And we expect to be expanding even further. We continue to take pride and raise the flag on behalf of local automotive manufacturing through our well-loved models – the Toyota Vios and the Toyota Innova.
How has Toyota/Lexus managed to adapt to the pandemic scenario? What were the biggest challenges?
I was really humbled by the resilience and continued strong motivation of Toyota team members in the face of the chaos and uncertainty brought by the pandemic. When COVID-19 broke out in March, 2020 and the world tried to cope with the virus, Toyota stayed focused. First, we had to assure the job security and safety of all our team members. Due to the rapidly evolving quarantine scenarios, we had to consider a different work arrangement for the factory and the office with each change. In the end, even if car manufacturing had to be suspended, the spirit of “monozukuri” (manufacturing) had to be sustained. Our factory team members took on the challenge of producing face masks that were donated to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and various Local Government Units (LGU). TMP did not let go of a single team member during the peak of the pandemic in 2020. In fact, by September last year, TMP hired more workers to restore two-shift operations at our factory.
Amidst the pandemic, the safety of our team members and customers remained a top priority. We amplified our digitalization efforts to make our products and services accessible to our customers even in the safety of their own homes. In addition, we tried to find ways to improve the whole customer experience online in collaboration with all our dealerships nationwide.
As we continued our efforts at transitioning from an auto manufacturing company to a mobility company, we launched new mobility solutions to help businesses and various transport sectors in their fleet management. In cooperation with the Department of Transportation (DoTr), we introduced a shuttle-on-demand service that allowed companies and institutions to realize a more efficient and effective solution for their employees. Together with Toyota Financial Services Philippines (TFSPH), TMP continued to provide new products and more options to help our customers make their car purchases lighter and easier. We introduced “Connected Loans” that allowed customers access to credit given the prevailing challenges to their earnings. As well, Kinto Full-Service Leases were introduced as an easy alternative to car ownership. At a time when business continuity, transportation and movement have become very challenging, we worked harder to be there for our customers and to stay true to our mission of providing mobility for all.
Lexus also undertook its own initiatives during the pandemic. One of the guiding philosophies and values that Lexus lives by is OMOTENASHI, which translates to treating a guest as if you are welcoming him or her to your own home. While the pandemic made it challenging to deliver this unique Lexus experience, we brought the same crafted experience to Lexus owners through new channels and touchpoints. We launched the Lexus Remote, an online platform that could assist guests in their requests for product information or prices. Lexus also hosted various numbers of Guest Engagement programs like webinars on wine, culinary experiences, horology, banking and others. Where possible, very strictly managed drive experiences were also arranged in line with all health protocols.
I would like to express my gratitude, too, to all our friends from the media. Their strong and unwavering support has been a vital addition to TMP’s efforts in adapting to these extremely COVID-challenged times.
What does the future hold for Toyota/Lexus? What plans are you most excited about?
We are in full support of Toyota’s worldwide direction of transitioning into a mobility company. Indeed, we are extremely excited to showcase Toyota’s expertise in new generation mobility products developed under its Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric (CASE) portfolio. We are committed to our continuing pursuit of providing ever better products and services and improving the overall customer ownership experience through our amplified digital touchpoints and dealership services.
For Toyota, expect exciting new products and model launches, especially with Toyota Gazoo Racing taking the lead in introducing heart-racing and thrilling experiences and vehicles this year. More groundbreaking developments are also expected in our electrified vehicle lineup as we support the government and industry move to reduce carbon footprints. We are looking to strengthen our sustainability initiatives in the years ahead.
For Lexus, we are launching the All-New NX which will take the lead for Lexus’ all-new styling and technology. It really is Lexus’ future chapter. In response to the growing popularity of our Hybrid Electric Vehicles, we will very soon be the first and only luxury car brand in the Philippines with a fully electrified model line-up. Together with all these exciting initiatives comes our renewed commitment to creating more amazing and crafted experiences every day, one Lexus Guest at a time.
Now more than ever, mobility plays an important role in moving people and moving lives, as we navigate through a newly evolving better-normal. TMP looks forward to its continuing partnership with the nation as we move forward from the pandemic and drive Filipinos to better days ahead.