Finally, Lexus Philippines has an EV in the RZ450e

If you’re a Filipino car buff, you must have noticed something weird about the local automotive industry: The number one brand that owns 40-45% of the market seems to be quiet when it comes to the hottest trend in the business. I’m talking about Toyota Motor Philippines and its seeming disinterest in electric vehicles.

As you know, EVs are the talk of the car town right now—not just globally but even in our humble market, thanks to the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act that lapsed into law last year. With the enactment came the benefits, including tax breaks that significantly lowered the prohibitive prices.

Another fringe benefit is exemption from the number-coding scheme, which, if you’re a resident of congested Metro Manila, is worth paying extra for. This perquisite that is extended to electrified vehicles is so attractive that it is now being used as a main selling point for mild-hybrid vehicles (yes, even if these cars don’t really offer much in the way of ecological merit).

Speaking of mild-hybrids, full or strong hybrid electric vehicles—which are the legitimate kind of hybrid vehicles—are what Toyota focused on in the past couple of decades, as evidenced by its emphasis on the Prius and on hybrid versions of its models. A hybrid car is one that is propelled by an internal-combustion engine and an electric motor. It has the ability to run solely in electric mode.

Granted, the Prius never really took off in our market, and that was because the car was never affordable by any means. But it helped Toyota educate its customers about the rewards of hybrid cars. Today, TMP now has four full-hybrid vehicles in its stable: the RAV4 Hybrid, the Camry Hybrid, the Corolla Cross Hybrid, and the Corolla Altis Hybrid.

By the same token, Lexus Philippines, the luxury division of the Japanese brand, now sells hybrid-electric versions of the UX, the NX, the RX, the IS, the ES, and the LS. It is obvious with these product offerings where Toyota bet much of its chips in the electrified era.

But then, the industry trend is currently pointing in the direction of full-electric cars. Which explains the influx of Chinese brands in our market (although some may argue that the Chinese are aggressively pivoting to global markets such as ours because their domestic market has weakened). Still, there’s no denying the prevailing course in the industry. It’s electric, and it is hard to imagine that the overwhelming market leader doesn’t even have a single EV in its lineup. Knowing how Toyota operates in the Philippines, it is truly difficult to believe that it still has no electric car in its stable—even just a halo model to let everyone know that it is ready to play the engine-less game. Nissan has one. BMW and other luxury marques, too.

Well, Toyota’s electric strategy is gradually reaching our shores, starting with Lexus. As you read this, Lexus Philippines has officially launched its first EV, the P4,828,000 RZ450e SUV. If you were able to visit the brand’s store at Mitsukoshi BGC recently, the concept vehicle (the LF-30 Electrified) on display was meant to pave the way for the RZ’s arrival.

The RZ is part of a triumvirate of electric crossovers, the other two being the Toyota bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra. Kind of surprising that the Lexus version was launched ahead of its Toyota counterpart. But this should tell us that TMP could be preparing to bring in the bZ4X soon (no word from the Subaru distributor if the Solterra is coming).

The RZ and the bZ4X are based on the e-TNGA (Electric Toyota New Global Architecture) platform. Which means Toyota owns this technology. With this move, Toyota and Lexus are assuring their loyal fans that they will and can engage their competitors inside the EV ring.

Is the RZ450e worth the price? I tried one last week. I was totally impressed with the ride. Combine this with the stunning styling and the many technological toys, and my answer is yes. Of course, throw in the proven luxury badge of Lexus and you will understand why other premium marques might be feeling uneasy with the car’s introduction.

FILL YOUR TANK: “He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will find
good.” (Proverbs 19:8)

Most Popular


More Articles Like This