AFTER 13 years of absence in the Japanese auto market, the Thai-made Toyota Hilux pickup is now being exported to Japan.
Toyota, the largest auto company in Thailand, held a ceremony at its Banpo assembly plant yesterday to mark export of the 3 millionth unit of the IMV (Innovative International Multi-Purpose Vehicle) model. The Hilux pickup was based on the IMV model and was the first Thai shipment to Japan.
The IMV project was initiated in 2002 and Thailand was designated the manufacturing base for the 1-tonne pickup truck, multi-purpose vehicles, engines and parts for both the domestic and export markets.
The first product to roll out from the projest was the Hilux Vigo pickup in 2014, while its predecessor, the Hilux Revo, was launched in 2004.
As much as 3 million units of the Hilux have been exported from Thailand during these years to 122 countries around the world. Thailand produces as much as 60 per cent of Toyota's total pickup production (450,000 units per year from two factories), with the United States as another major producer.
Despite being exported to a large number of countries around the world, the IMV-based Hilux had never made it to Japan, which is known as a market with very high standards on quality.
Michinobu Sugata, managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and president of Toyota Motor Thaland (TMT), said "As a result of our hard work especially in quality assurance, the model was finally exported from Thailand and introduced in Japan last month. We are happy to see that it has drawn overwhelming responses from Toyota dealers and the customers in Japan.”
Another TMC managing officer Hiroki Nakajima added, “Currently, there is a fan base of Hilux users in Japan who are glad that the wait is over. Today, it is a sheer pleasure to see Toyota Motor Thailand has exported this wonderful pickup to customers here. Hilux users in Japan will be happy to share great moments with this fantastic vehicle. We are confident that Hilux will be a roaring success in Japan. We have received overwhelming response from customers, just a month after launch, which is a fantastic sign of great things to come. This also means sales of Hilux has already gone beyond target.”
Toyota has been present in Thailand for over 55 years. TMT is currently the top auto exporter from Thailand with an export value of Bt1.46 trillion (2004-2017), in addition to another Bt590 billion worth of engines and spare parts.