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Toyota Taps Thailand for New-Gen Hilux Pickup Launch

Executive Summary

The new Hilux Revo is a vital vehicle both for Toyota and the country’s entire car industry, where a sales slump that began in early 2014 shows no sign of ending.

BANGKOK – Toyota holds the global premiere of its eighth-generation Hilux in Bangkok, emphasizing Thailand’s importance in the automaker’s 1-ton pickup manufacturing operations.

The new model offers newly developed diesel engines and transmissions, as well as updated styling, ergonomics and comfort and safety features.

Six countries produce the Hilux, with Thailand (where it is called the Hilux Revo) accounting for a whopping 70% of global production. It’s sold in 180 countries.

“We are happy to introduce the Hilux for the first time in the world in Thailand, which can be said to be the place of origin of the Hilux,” Kyoichi Tanada, president of Toyota Motor Asia Pacific and Toyota Motor Thailand, says during the launch ceremony.

The Hilux first was produced here in 2004 when Toyota launched its Innovative International Multi Purpose Vehicle platform. It was the automaker’s first 1-ton pickup built outside Japan.

About 16 million Hiluxes have been built since the truck was introduced 47 years ago, with the domestic Thai market accounting for 1.65 million units while producing 2.4 million for export destinations. It makes Thailand the biggest global pickup production hub for Toyota and a key export model for the local operation, especially as demand for some of the car models it exports has slipped.

Against that backdrop the new Hilux Revo is a vital vehicle both for Toyota Thailand, where it has been the best-selling pickup nine consecutive years, and the car industry as a whole, which has suffered sharply falling sales for the past year and a half and shows no sign of ending. The new model succeeds the Hilux Vigo in production for 11 years.

Hilux Sold in 180 Countries But U.S. Off Table

The Hilux makeover includes redesigning the frame and a new efficient diesel engine family, dubbed GD, which offers improved low-end torque. The 2.4L version makes 150 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque while the 2.8L generates 177 hp and 310 lb.-ft. (420 Nm) or 332 lb.-ft. (450 Nm) with automatic transmission.

Fuel efficiency is improved about 10% thanks to the new engines, incorporation of stop-start and particularly the new 6-speed AT.

The 2.7L gasoline engine has been improved and retained but this option mainly will be for export markets.

The new Hilux is 3.6 ins. (90 mm) longer at the front, mainly to meet global crash-testing requirements, and its weight is increased, also driven by a need to meet international standards. Despite the larger size and weight Toyota says it has no plans to introduce the new Hilux to the U.S., although it could be an option if it could be homologated.

There are three cab styles (standard, extended and double) and 33 different specifications, and seven body colors (three of which are new) with prices starting at TB569,000 ($16,870) for the single cab with 2.4L engine and 2-wheel drive, and ranging up to TB1.14 million ($33,800) for the premium Double Cab with 2.8L engine, automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

Following the global trend toward making pickups more car-like, an all-new interior includes many design cues from Toyota’s car range. Noise is reduced and ride quality and handling are improved thanks to an 8-in. (20-cm) increase in width and a new design for the suspension system that includes longer leaf springs to better absorb vibrations.

Toyota, which builds the Hilux at plants in Bang Po and Samrong in Thailand, aims for an ambitious 14,000 sales a month in the country, which will be a tough task in a down market – as Vudhigorn Suriyachantananot, senior vice president-Toyota Thailand, admits.

Tanada says the Hilux Revo’s Thai sales target is achievable, as it’s based on total market volume this year of 900,000 units.

The outgoing Hilux recently has averaged 11,000 sales, giving it a vast 38% share of the 1-ton pickup segment.

Initial local export markets for the new Hilux are Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. This is the first time Toyota has tailored the pickup for different markets, while localization inches up to about 96%.

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