The Board of Investments (BOI) has announced that it decided to reallocation of funds for the final slot of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) program. Due to lack of a third qualified automaker, the $200 million will be allocated to supporting the Department of Transportation's (DOTr) public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program. 

Toyota Motor Philippines and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation were the only automakers that agreed to meet the 200,000-unit volume requirement and qualified for the CARS program.

Other distributors and importers expressed serious interest in joining the CARS program, but have asked for the production obligation to be lowered.

The CARS program was designed for three vehicle makers to receive $200 million each in fixed and variable incentives for locally manufacturing 200,000 units of the same model in a six-year period. Carmakers were made to commit to increasing localized content of production to effectively qualify for the program.

"There were really no other players. But the good aspect of this is that this, in turn, will benefit more because the budget will now be placed to support the PUV modernization. We will reallocate the budget for the third slot, which is around $200 million, for this PUV modernization local manufacturing to broaden the benefit and still encourage local manufacturing," said Trade Secretary and BOI chair Ramon Lopez.

To boost the manufacturing of safer, cleaner and more efficient PUVs, the BOI is encouraging local jeepney makers to join the Eco-PUV program that comes with government support.

Lopez is pushing for a sub-Php 1 million price target for the 'Eco-PUV'; it aims to replace PUVs that are 15 years or older, which the transport department has deemed "unsafe" for public transport use.

"The price has to be lower than what is available. It has to be below Php 1 million because one million is already expensive for a commercial vehicle," said Lopez.

The program aims to come up with electric or hybrid models that have bigger passenger capacity and priced at under Php 1 million.