Toyota is practically a staple in every Filipino motorist's diet. If you don't personally own a Toyota, you're bound to have ridden one at some point or know someone who has at least has one model parked in their garage. There are many good reasons why Toyota is the number one automaker in the country, and now they're celebrating their thirty-second anniversary as Toyota Motor Philippines, or TMP.
Most of the Toyotas on the road have rolled out of the former Bicutan, Paranaque assembly line, and current Santa Rosa, Laguna plant. TMP has built nearly 900,000 cars, pick-ups, vans, and MPVs in their history.
And so, on the occasion of their 32nd anniversary, we thought we'd take a quick blast down memory lane with the cars that built the foundation of Toyota's success here in the Philippines.
1. Corolla/Corolla Altis
The Corolla was one of the first cars assembled under TMP. It started with semi-knock down units and the first one rolled off the Bicutan plant in 1989. The “Small Body” Corolla would then become TMP's first fully assembled car in the country later that year. Succeeding models would be built in Santa Rosa, Laguna with the first Corolla made there is the “Big Body”. Two more generations would be made here, namely the “Lovelife” and the “ZZ” Corolla Altis. By 2008 however, our Corolla Altises would be sourced from abroad.
Two generations of the Corona would be made under TMP's wing. The eighth-generation model was made in Bicutan as a semi-knock down unit. It was a brief production run as it would quickly be succeeded by the subsequent generation. The Corona EX that made its way to showrooms would be completely knocked down units, and the same applies to the facelifted Exsior models. When Toyota stopped building the Corona in the Philippines, it wouldn't be the last executive sedan made by TMP.
When the Corona Exsior ceased production in the Philippines, the plant would be retooled to build its successor, the Camry. Like the Corona, two generations would roll off the Santa Rosa plant. The first Camry built locally was the 1998 to 2001 model. The following year, the all-new model (at the time) would continue to be made locally until production stopped in 2006.
It's rather sad that the Toyota Crown is no longer being sold in the Philippines. Long before Lexus landed in the country, if you wanted a plush Japanese luxury saloon, the Crown was the one to get. The Crown was also one of the cars the got the ball rolling for TMP. Like the Corolla, it was made in Bicutan during the early days of TMP with assembly subsequently moving to Santa Rosa later on. There's something that makes the Philippine-built Crown special too. The locally-made 1989 to 1999 models were just some of the few made outside of Japan...in left-hand drive.
Like the Crown and Corolla, the LiteAce was a pioneering model for TMP. Initially built here as a semi-knock down unit in 1989, the minivan became a hit for those looking for more space and utility over conventional sedans or station wagons. Thanks to its versatility, it could be used as daily transport, a shuttle, a vacation vehicle, and even a delivery vehicle. The LiteAce would be made here for an entire decade, with the local production running from 1989 to 1999.
6. Tamaraw FX and Revo
The Tamaraw FX and the Revo need no further introduction. Launched in 1993, the Tamaraw FX became a common sight on the roads and it could be seen as the ultimate one-car solution for many. It was versatile, dependable, and reliable, making it painless to own. In 1998, Toyota introduced the Revo, which brought the idea of the AUV into the modern age. It was sad news when the Revo ceased production in 2004, bringing an end to the Tamaraw FX bloodline. However, its successor would prove to be an even bigger seller and the best part is, it's still made in the Philippines
When the Innova replaced the Revo in 2004, it carried less than its well-established predecessor, and was more expensive. Those things didn't prove to be a hurdle for the Innova, not even for a bit. For the past 16 years, it has been the country's top-selling MPV by a significant margin. While it was a big leap from the Revo and Tamaraw FX in terms of tech and design, the fundamentals are still there. It's practical and flexible, but durable and dependable thanks to the Hilux-based chassis. The second-generation model has even more appeal thanks to a wide variety of variants. From base to plush, there's an Innova for every man and woman.
Of course, this list wouldn't be complete without the country's best-selling sedan for several years in a row, the Vios. Since the second generation model in 2007, the subcompact sedan has been proudly made in Santa Rosa for 13 years. Over the years, it grew in size, gained more power, and boasted more features. Like the Innova, there's a Vios for everyone thanks to an expansive variant selection. Over 300,000 Vios units have been made here since 2007, an impressive feat given that all Vioses made locally are just for the country.
Since Philippine production started in 1989, Toyota Motor Philippines has rolled out approximately 880,000 vehicles from both the Santa Rosa and Bicutan assembly plants. That comprises more than half of all Toyota vehicles sold here since 1988, which currently stands at 1.78 million units. Toyota has been such a strong name in the country that the Philippines is one of the biggest markets for the brand, not just in Asia, but in the world. The sales tally for 2019 showed that the Philippines is the ninth-biggest market for the Japanese automaker, and we're not seeing Toyota lose its position in the local market in the foreseeable future.