Toyota Motor Thailand (TMT) has exported its pickup Hilux Revo to Japan for the first time since the Aichi-based Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) phased out its pickup truck manufacturing in Japan and moved to Thailand in 2002.
The Japanese carmaker said the Hilux Revo double-cab 4x4 has been shipped since August to the Japanese market with a retail price of about ¥3 million (879,494 baht).
The company plans to export about 300 pickups a month.
TMC managing officer Hiroki Nakajima said Toyota's plants in Samut Prakan (Samrong) and Chachoengsao (Banpho) are the pickup truck production bases, serving 122 countries worldwide.
Last year, Toyota produced 513,603 pickup trucks from 13 plants worldwide and Thailand accounted for 64% of the total output, making 333,432 trucks.
Toyota's Samrong and Banpho plants have a combined capacity of 450,000 trucks a year.
The Revo model is the eighth generation of the Hilux pickup, which has sold at least 17.3 million units in 180 countries over the past five decades. The Hilux itself is under Toyota's innovative international multi-purpose vehicle (IMV) project, together with the Fortuner and Innova models.
In 2002, Toyota announced that the IMV initiative would be localised at the Thai plants, which have produced 2.26 million Hilux and Fortuner vehicles.
Under the IMV initiative, Toyota increased the number of its local suppliers from 131 firms to 200 with a total investment from all parties of 135.5 billion baht. The programme has generated 79,000 jobs in Thailand.
Toyota's Indonesia plant produces the compact multi-purpose vehicle Innova.
In a related development, Toyota yesterday celebrated exporting 3.03 million vehicles from its Thai operations. The event was witnessed by Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana and Shiro Sadoshima, Japan's ambassador to Thailand, together with high-ranking executives from TMC and TMT.
Toyota has operated in Thailand for 55 years and is the largest vehicle exporter in Thailand.
During 2004-17, Toyota has exported vehicles valued at 1.46 trillion baht and engines and spare parts worth 590 billion baht, contributing 2.05 trillion baht in revenue to Thailand.
TMT chairman Ninnart Chaithirapinyo said that while TMC is seeking new export countries for Thai-made cars, TMT will retain its shipment outlook of 291,000 vehicles in 2017, down 9%, to mark a fourth straight year of export contraction for Toyota.
"Toyota has suffered lower vehicle exports because it relies too much on the Middle East countries, which are the core market for pickups, but those countries now have unstable economies while oil prices remain relatively low," Mr Ninnart said. "Oceania is also a destination for pickups, and sales there remain very healthy."
At home, Toyota expects to sell 265,000 vehicles this year, up 8% from the previous year.
During January to October this year, Toyota sold 186,962 vehicles, down 3.4% year-on-year. Passenger car sales grew by 8.8% to 75,163 units. Sales of the Hilux Revo pickup fell by 8.7% to 86,258 units, while the Fortuner pickup passenger vehicle sold 17,434 units, down 23.6%.