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Toyota tests new EV pickup truck ahead of mass production in Thailand

Published 2024-05-16, 04:49 a/m
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A fully-electric Toyota Hilux Revo pickup truck as a public transportation vehicle is seen in the Thai seaside town of Pattaya, Chonburi province, Thailand, April 25, 2024. REUTERS/Artorn Pookasook/File Photo
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By Devjyot Ghoshal

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Toyota Motor is testing the new battery-electric Hilux pickup truck to assess its performance in different conditions as the car maker prepares to manufacture the vehicle in Thailand by the end of 2025, an executive said on Thursday.

Pickup trucks make up more than half of total vehicle sales in Thailand, a critical market for Toyota that has been flooded by a wave of Chinese electric vehicle makers and where the Japanese auto giant has a large manufacturing base.

"Our intention is to be producing the Hilux BEV over here," Pras Ganesh, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Asia told Reuters on the sidelines of the Future Mobility Asia summit, referring to the battery-electric vehicle.

Ganesh declined to provide details on pricing or production volume for the Hilux BEV, which will be Toyota's first EV pickup truck offering.

Rival Japanese automaker Isuzu Motors also plans to manufacture its electric D-MAX pickup truck in Thailand, the Thai government said in March.

The vehicle will be primarily aimed at the Thai domestic market, but Ganesh said the automaker will also consider exporting the Hilux BEV.

Toyota is testing the Hilux BEV for multiple use cases in varying road and temperature conditions.

"The more range I have to put on it, the more battery I have to put on it, which means the weight of the vehicle also becomes significantly heavier, which means the loading can be much less," Ganesh said. "So 'Is it going to meet the customer's usage needs?' is always our biggest issue. We are always trying to understand what they do."

Trailing EV industry leaders Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and China's BYD, Toyota has profited from rising demand for hybrid vehicles as more consumers are embracing petrol-electric hybrids, the company's traditional strength.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A fully-electric Toyota Hilux Revo pickup truck as a public transportation vehicle is seen in the Thai seaside town of Pattaya, Chonburi province, Thailand, April 25, 2024. REUTERS/Artorn Pookasook/File Photo

Ganesh said Toyota expects hybrid sales to grow in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, where it faces rising competition in the segment from cost-competitive rivals including Great Wall (HK:2333) Motor.

In 2023, the company sold a little over 30,000 hybrid cars in Thailand, contributing about 11.5% of its overall vehicle sales in the country.

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