Can the Tamaraw make a comeback like the L300?

So here’s a bit of automotive news from a rather unlikely source: the Presidential Communications Office.

The agency stated that Toyota Motors Corporation has a plan to bring back a very popular (but long phased out) model in the Philippines: the Tamaraw.

The news stems from the ongoing visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Japan where he met with Akio Toyoda; current Toyota president and soon to be Chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation. The two had a meeting together with senior government officials including former President (and now Representative and Deputy Speaker) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Toyota Tamaraw PBBM image

The post reads:

Ikinalugod ni Pangulong Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ang plano ng Toyota Motors Corporation na muling ibalik ang Tamaraw model sa merkado ng bansa. Ibinahagi din ng Pangulo na ang Tamaraw ay isa sa pinakakilalang modelo ng sasakyan sa Pilipinas.

[President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is pleased at the plan of Toyota Motor Corporation to bring back the Tamaraw model to the local market. The President stated that the Tamaraw is one of the most recognizable automobile models in the Philippines] 

Nagpahayag naman ng suporta ang Toyota sa mga plano ng administrasyon sa pagpapaluwag ng pagnenegosyo para sa mga kumpanyang nais mag negosyo sa bansa.

[Toyota says that they support the plans of the administration with the relaxing of business restrictions for companies that intend to do business in the country.]

Toyota Tamaraw PBBM image

Needless to say we are scratching our heads at the prospect of the Tamaraw returning given that it has long bowed out to its more modern successor. Yet the presence of Toyota Motor Philippines Chairman Alfred Ty at said meeting does lend a lot of credence to the possibility of the return of the Tamaraw.

The question is this: How can the Tamaraw return?

In manner of speaking, it actually never left because the model known as Tamaraw is known as the Kijang in neighboring Indonesia; actually, the model we know as Innova is marketed there as Kijang Innova.

The format of Innova has changed drastically since its very humble and utilitarian beginnings many decades ago. The Asian Utility Vehicle (AUV) was the original designation for models like the Tamaraw with an economical diesel engine mounted onto a chassis with a single row of forward facing seats (not cab-over) and two benches facing inward like a jeepney. This type of vehicle proved very popular in the Philippines, particularly in rural areas; actually it still is popular as “vintage” examples can be seen in the provinces still performing the role of farm to market transport.

As to what exact format the Tamaraw will take is unclear. Maybe Toyota is looking at reusing their existing tooling (if it all still exists) for the Tamaraw with an updated engine that complies with newer emissions standards like what Mitsubishi did with the L300 revival. It may also be possible that Toyota is developing an entirely new model with modern technologies but the same utilitarian principles as the original Tamaraw.

Needless to say, we’ll be keeping an eye on any developments on this plan to bring back the old workhorse.]