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SURELY, many Filipino families have fond memories of the Lite Ace. By today’s yardstick, the Lite Ace of yore would have been a quintessential MPV. I speak of it in the past tense even if I do have rare sightings of that ’90s passenger van which was so aptly named because, well, it was exactly that — a smaller version of its Hiace sibling.
Last Friday, Toyota Motor Philippines resurrected the nameplate in a slightly different, more workmanlike guise — or, rather, guises. With the return of economic activity in the country as a result of looser COVID-19 restrictions, recovery (knock on wood) is being felt all around — and the timing of the Lite Ace arrival here is by no means happenstance. “We believe that the economy will steadily recover — especially MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises),” said Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) President Atsuhiro Okamoto to “Velocity,” after the unveiling of the Lite Ace at the Farmers Plaza in Araneta City, Cubao.
He continued, “We in Toyota haven’t covered the segment (yet) because there’s no appropriate vehicle model. So, we introduce this small commercial truck for MSMEs.”
You could say that the Lite Ace picks up where the hallowed Toyota Tamaraw left off, and TMP is now making sure that those who need it the most will have the ability to get the vehicle. In a release, TMP stated that “through Toyota Financial Services Philippines (TFSPH), (the company) is offering the all-new Lite Ace under unique financing packages that allow customers to acquire units under a weekly payment scheme with rates that go as low as P2,903.50 per month.”
Speaking to guests following the launch, Mr. Okamoto said, “It is our goal for the all-new Lite Ace to enable Filipino business owners to achieve success wherever they are, and whatever their needs… With lighter payment, easier maintenance, and reliability that will not let them down, the Lite Ace will allow business owners to focus on and enjoy the growth of their livelihood.”
Meanwhile, TMP said in a release that the Lite Ace “is also boosted by Toyota products’ signature QDR (Quality, Durability, and Reliability) that suits the demands of MSMEs needing the most returns out of their every investment. This also translates to minimal downtimes for the vehicle, ensuring business continuity and avoiding time and financial losses or extra expenditures for repairs.”
The allure of its friendly pricing — P570,000 for the Pickup Lite Ace (which boasts an open bed for “fast and flexible loading” and P655,000 for the Panel Van Lite Ace (“with [a] sliding enclosure for more secure cargo transport”) is surpassed only by its modifiability.
At the atrium area of the Farmers Plaza, a myriad of configurations for the Lite Ace were displayed: a coffee truck, ambulance, rice delivery pickup, shuttle, cable service vehicle, cargo van, barangay patrol vehicle, and delivery truck.
TMP promises to grow the lineup even more by bringing in the Aluminum Van and Utility Van variant by September. The units are manufactured in Indonesia, while local accredited third-party bodybuilders can be contracted to customize the units to the unique specifications of buyers, added Mr. Okamoto.
Powering the Lite Ace is Toyota’s 2NR-VE engine, an inline four-cylinder, 16-valve DOHC with dual VVT-i. With a swept volume of 1,496cc, the power plant generates 98ps (at 6,000rpm) and 134Nm (at 4,400rpm). It is mated to a five-speed manual transmission.
Significantly, this workhorse has accoutrements like electric power steering and an air-conditioning system. Safety features include SRS air bags, anti-lock brakes, and vehicle stability control (VSC) for the Panel Van. Coming exclusively in white exterior color, the Toyota Lite Ace is also packaged with free periodic maintenance for one year or 20,000 kilometers.
Mr. Okamoto admitted to this writer that even if “the supply situation is very unclear,” TMP expects to sell anywhere from 300 to 400 units of the Lite Ace a month. “Hopefully the supply situation improves in Q4,” he added, echoing the aspiration of auto brands that have all been challenged not just by the pandemic but various shortages and crises.
For more information, visit toyota.com/asenso for more information or any of Toyota’s 72 dealerships nationwide; download the myToyota app for Android or iOS, and follow Toyota Motor Philippines on Facebook and Instagram,ToyotaMotorPH on Twitter, or Toyota PH on Viber for updates.