Toyota to challenge Suzuki Carry with Lite Ace
A few weeks ago, we received information that Toyota Motor Philippines is conducting a study with their dealer network on something very important: a new commercial vehicle.
Toyota tapped their dealers to inquire amongst their existing clients -particularly the owners of MSMEs or Micro Small and Medium Enterprises- if they would be interested in a small commercial vehicle that wears a T on the grille.
They haven't given a name to the vehicle yet apart from "A-CV" or A-segment Commercial Vehicle, but what is important is that such a vehicle would mean that Toyota is entering a market segment they aren't present in. Sure, they have the Hilux cab and chassis model (AKA: IMV1) but the cost of that is a tad high given the market.
During the launch of the 2022 Toyota Avanza, we got a chance to catch up with Toyota Motor Philippines president Atsuhiro Okamoto, and needless to say, we asked about this next model. No, he's not denying it; Toyota is indeed planning to launch model that would compete directly against the Suzuki Carry.
The first thing we can confirm is the name. We had speculated that Toyota will use the Lite Ace name for this A-CV, and that will indeed be the case. Okamoto-san confirmed that the new model will indeed be the Lite Ace.
The question of the name is actually significant because Toyota does have two names for the same model: Lite Ace and Town Ace. There is a third name too; the vehicle is also known as the Daihatsu Gran Max. That third name was never on the table and neither was Town Ace; Toyota executives say that the Lite Ace still has a strong name recall among Filipino customers, so that's what they'll go with. It's hard to disagree with that line of thought.
The other bit is the pricing. We asked TMP's president if the pricing is already finalized and he said not yet. But he did say that the model will be below PHP 1 million.
That was a rather cheeky answer from the boss. The Lite Ace will be positioned as a much more affordable LCV compared to the Hilux cab & chassis. The Hilux IMV1 is already priced at PHP 843,000, so a Lite Ace “A-CV” will be well below that, and definitely way under 1 million. Of course, the 2022 Lite Ace will come in cab & chassis form and not as a van or MPV like the Lite Ace we know; the Toyota Avanza -now on its 3rd generation- is there to fill that role.
If we were to guess the pricing of the LiteAce, we have to look at the main rival: the Suzuki Carry. Yes, that is the model that Toyota is targeting with the LiteAce, and in cab & chassis form the Carry retails for PHP 554,000. Now Toyota almost never undercuts their rivals in the same segment; instead they price a bit more because, well, it's a Toyota. So if the Carry is at that price, expect the LiteAce to be more; our money is somewhere around PHP 620,000, give or take 20,000. That's just a guess, of course.
Expect the 2022 Toyota LiteAce to debut sometime in July, with more variants to follow in September.