How Toyota could make its future $13,000 pickup so affordable

By | December 20, 2023

Toyota Hilux champion

How Toyota Made a $13,000 PickupToyota

It turns out the $10,000 pickup is actually too good to be true. But only a little. The production version of the Toyota IMV 0 concept, now known as the Hilux Champ in Thailand, starts at 459,000 Thai Baht, or just over $13,000 at the current exchange rate. On the one hand, that’s 30 percent higher than the price we heard from Toyota engineers during a short test drive in Japan. On the other hand, it’s a brand new full-bed truck that can haul 2,200 pounds, which is almost as cheap as a 22-year-old Ford Ranger on Bring a Trailer. As a reminder, the 2024 Tacoma base price is $32,995. The Hilux Champ is still a deal, and to find out more about how Toyota pulled this off, we got some answers straight from Dr. Jurachart Jongusuk, chief engineer for Toyota’s IMV platform and regional chief engineer for Toyota Daihatsu Engineering and Manufacturing.

One reason why the Hilux Champ doesn’t cost much is the completely bare-bones nature of the truck. This is primarily a commercial vehicle, closer in features and amenities to the Ford F-350 box truck with chassis cab you rent from U-Haul than anything Toyota sells to the American consumer. Dr. Jongusuk told Road and rail Toyota focused on “Optimizing the specifications for only necessary items through extensive input from the target group, through a simple but highly functional interior and exterior.”

Toyota imv 0 small truckToyota imv 0 small truck

Toyota

Another reason is the ruthless cost-cutting that went into the development of the Hilux Champ, even going so far as to implement the Toyota Production System throughout the supply chain.

“Purchasing engineers went to supplier factories to study the production of parts in each process,” says Dr. Jongusuk. “They applied their knowledge from previous projects to improve productivity at the supplier level. They even visited Level 2 and Level 3 suppliers to carry out production improvement activities to further reduce costs.”

Toyota imv 0 small truckToyota imv 0 small truck

Toyota

An example of these extreme lengths was figuring out that painting the inner and outer parts of the rear leaf spring brackets different colors was the most cost-effective way to make those similar parts.

The other part of the Hilux Champ’s price is that Toyota sells it in a less complete state than a non-commercial vehicle and expects customers to add to what is essentially a blank canvas. Dr. Jongusuk describes this as “Delivering the car 70 percent, while the remaining 30 percent is customized by the customer.”

Toyota Hilux Champion 2024Toyota Hilux Champion 2024

Toyota

That customization includes everything that can be grafted onto the back, from a simple truck bed to a complete food truck. And just like the customization process for commercial vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Ford Transit in the US, Toyota Thailand will put you in touch with a specialty shop for whatever you need. And to improve that affordability, Toyota Motor Thailand offers everything from a 5 percent down payment to 108-month loan terms, and some conversions can be combined with the purchase payment.

“Our ultimate goal was to make this car affordable and accessible,” says Dr. Jongusuk, “if people can afford their first car, which they can use to run a business and generate income, it will improve their quality of life and open up new opportunities. economic opportunities.”

Toyota Hilux Champion 2024Toyota Hilux Champion 2024

Toyota

That theme of opportunity through affordability goes back to the original concept for the IMV platform, and also where the name IMV 0 comes from.

“The development was positioned as a return to the roots of the IMV, with the desire to make it not just a model change of the IMV, but a car that will help make our future brighter together with the people of Thailand,” says Dr. says Jongusuk.

IMV stands for Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle and was launched in 2002 as a way for Toyota to expand into emerging markets with a global platform using shared engines and parts. It took over the lineage of the Toyota Hilux pick-up in 2004, followed by the Fortuner/SW4 SUV and the Innova minivan, produced in Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina and South Africa and built from knock-down kits in a number of other countries .

Toyota imv 0 small truckToyota imv 0 small truck

Toyota

However, the inspiration for the Hilux Champ goes back further. “The root of the idea for the IMV comes from the Toyota Kijang,” says Dr. Jongusuk, referring to Toyota’s original ultra-affordable pickup for the Southeast Asian markets from 1976. Also known as the Tamaraw, you can see the similarity in the basic utilitarian shape of the newer truck.

Like the Kijang/Tamaraw, the Hilux Champ will spread all over the world. After the launch in Thailand, the IMV 0 (possibly under a different name) will go to Indonesia and the Philippines. Neither Toyota nor Dr. Jongusuk has further comments on other countries, but Africa and South and Central America are certainly part of the plan.

Toyota imv 0 pickupToyota imv 0 pickup

Toyota

Unfortunately, if you haven’t figured that out already, this probably means the Hilux Champ will never reach the United States. The petrol and diesel variants sold in Thailand meet Euro5 emission standards. Presumably it’s possible to bring the gas engines up to US EPA or the current Euro6 standard, but this, like anything else that would make this truck more palatable to even the most frugal US customers, would increase the purchase price. But hey, eventually you can get one for the income property you plan to buy in Costa Rica.

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