So we’ve come across something interesting from our friends embedded in the regional auto industry.

According to insiders, there are plans to produce the LiteAce in other factories in Southeast Asia. Currently, the model is being built by Toyota and Daihatsu in Indonesia, but it seems Toyota may be evaluating expanding production to other countries: one is Thailand, and the other is the Philippines.

This is something that can’t be officially confirmed with Toyota Motor Philippines, but our sources in the region haven’t let us down when it comes to model timelines from major Japanese automakers. And the plan is supposedly to have production start in 2023 for Thailand and 2024 for the Philippines.

Despite the unavailability of confirmation, the information aligns with two developments with Toyota in the Philippine market. The first is the demand for the LiteAce is especially high even by Toyota’s standards in the Philippines. Dealers have long queues for the LiteAce given the supply issues of late. We requested official data from Toyota but based on reports from our friends at the dealers they aren’t even close to serving all those orders.

Toyota Lite Ace PH production image

The model was launched earlier this year at Farmers Plaza and Farmers Market in Cubao, Quezon City as the LiteAce was clearly intended to be an affordable mobility solution for small business owners. And given that many had transitioned into setting up a small businesses since the pandemic began, then it’s not hard to see why it has become so popular.

With the demand, setting up assembly of the LiteAce makes a good case for itself for Toyota Motor Philippines. That also brings us to a second reason: the CARS Program.

As some keen industry observers would know, Toyota is manufacturing two models here: the first is the second-generation Toyota Innova which has been in CKD production since 2016, while the other model is the fourth-generation Toyota Vios. Of the two, only the Vios is enrolled in the CARS Program for incentives

Toyota (and Mitsubishi) are reportedly asking the government for an extension of some kind because the pandemic and the resulting parts supply issues and economic issues have set back their production and sales considerably. That means it is likely they won’t meet the requirements for CARS. As it turns out, the Board of Investments is willing to renegotiate the terms, so long as the automakers add another model.

If that’s the case, then the LiteAce is a very worthy candidate for Toyota. We’ll keep our ears open for any new developments in this very interesting development.