The Board of Investments (BOI) plans to tap local players to produce 140,000 modern public utility vehicles (PUVs), while an additional 60,000 units will be slated for transport operators to import.
BOI Managing Head and Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said the government is pursuing an “open market” approach, wherein transport operators would be allowed to import vehicles abroad.
The Duterte administration is pushing for a PUV modernization program that will replace the current fleet of around 200,000 PUVs over the next few years. BOI is coming up with a program to encourage local players to supply modern PUVs.
“We won’t do a manufacturing solution in a protected environment. We’re done with that. We will compete here. It’s an open competition. We won’t stop operators from importing vehicles, but we will help local manufacturers so they could compete,” he said.
An upcoming Philippine Auto Parts Expo next month will feature ready-to-sell products, according to Ferdinand I. Raquelsantos, president of the Parts Makers Association Inc.
Marissa Concepcion, who is program manager for a similar automotive manufacturing scheme called the CARS program, said most of the PUV replacements would come from local players.
However, a group of local body-building firms, which includes Centro Manufacturing Corp. and Almazora Motor Corp., have locally produced around 3,000 units so far, according to Vicente Mills, president of the Automotive Body Manufacturers Association of the Philippines.
The Bureau of Philippine Standards has classified these PUVs in four categories, depending on the seat capacity, among other factors. The latest update on these categories, which was hinted at during the press conference, is yet to be published.
Out of the 140,000 units, Concepcion said 80,000 units would be classified under class 2 and 3, which could carry at least 23 passengers. These are the categories, she said, that would receive “fiscal support.”
The class 1 PUV is similar to the old L300 model of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp.
Mills said there were around 3,000 units in their factories right now.
Rodolfo hinted that local players might have an edge over PUV importers in terms of after-sales service.