The Velocity Q&A: Ma. Cristina Fe Arevalo [President and CEO Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines, Inc. (TMSPH)]


Interview by Kap Maceda Aguila

VELOCITY: What is Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines all about?

MA. CRISTINA FE AREVALO: Okay, in a nutshell, Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines is an integrated mobility solutions provider where we utilize systems and applications that will maximize efficiency in transportation of people and goods. So, these systems and applications can result in higher efficiency and improve business profitability.

One of the interesting things that we also learned during the press conference is that it was an idea birthed during the pandemic. Can you talk us through that?

Yes, it was during the pandemic that our global president, Mr. Akio Toyoda, announced his vision of transforming Toyota from a traditional automotive company to a mobility company, and Toyota Motor Philippines happens to be one of the first to respond to that call. And we immediately set up a business unit within Toyota Motor Philippines in order to lay the groundwork for all these modular systems that we are currently offering.

To envision something like Mr. Toyoda has is one thing; it’s another to actually go about and apply it in the Philippines. I think it speaks to the faith of TMP in the industry, and the market in general. What are you seeing in the Philippines that allows Toyota to have this confidence to set up this new company with these kinds of services?

Well, frankly, Toyota Motor Philippines’ core business, which is automotive manufacturing and distribution, remains to be the center of the Toyota ecosystem. However, Toyota’s goal is to provide mobility for all. And not everybody can afford to own a car, right? So, through Toyota mobility solutions, we can provide a usership platform in partnership with Toyota Financial Services Philippines. And we can also provide these usership platforms for as short as an hour to up to three years or five years — depending on the need of the customer for occasional requirements. Tying it all together, in a simple formula, is that Toyota provides both the hardware and the software that can maximize utilization of the vehicles.

So let me just reiterate what you were saying earlier. This doesn’t mean that Toyota as a company will be endeavoring to shift from an ownership to a usership model. Is that right?

Yes, we’re not shifting. We’re just providing an alternative for people who either do not want to own vehicles because of the hassles involved in it, or they simply do not afford yet to own a vehicle. So we have this alternative for them so that they can be mobile.

But what are you seeing in the market though? Are more people being open to this idea of usership versus traditional ownership where you have to see your name on the registration of the vehicle that you’re using?

Currently, I think our we’re in the infancy stage for usership. Frankly, for individuals it takes time to explain this concept to them; comparing cost of ownership versus leasing. But there are a lot of large companies that are already into leasing vehicles and not owning them. So there is a difference in perspective and prioritization. For companies, they want to be asset-light; they want a hassle-free usage of vehicles. So for them, it’s very practical, but on the personal side there’s that sentimental value that, you know, usership cannot provide.