Another new player has expressed interest in assembling vehicles locally and may also join the administration’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program.

Tata Motors, thru its local distributor Pilipinas Taj Autogroup, Inc., has revealed plans to assemble at least three models in the Philippines, particularly the 12-seater Ace, 16-seater Super Ace, and the 22-seater SFC 407.

These models, being very utilitarian in nature, has the Indian automaker thinking about being a player in the PUV Modernization Program by using the Ace and the Super Ace as replacements for old-school Class 1 jeepneys while the SFC 407 can take the place of bigger Class 2, 3 and 4 jeepneys.

“We plan to do local assembly, especially for this upcoming PUV Modernization Program,” said Pilipinas Taj Vice President and General Manager Arthur Balmadrid.

Tata sees the Philippines as a strategic partner in production of various models that are currently ongoing in other Southeast Asia locations like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia.

While the Ace and Super Ace are already being assembled by other countries in the region, Tata hopes that the Philippines can be the production hub for the SFC 407.

The value of the investment has not yet been disclosed but according to Balmadrid, Tata will only provide technical support and the ownership will be 100-percent Filipino.

“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,” added Balmadrid.