As Chinese automakers like BYD steal Toyota’s limelight in Thailand, the automaker is planning a counteroffensive. Toyota is set to test a new electric pickup to fend off the incoming competition.
Toyota unveiled its first electric pickup, the HiLux BEV, nearly a year ago for its 60th anniversary in Thailand.
Pickups are a critical part of Thailand’s auto industry, accounting for around 50% of all vehicles sold in 2022. According to research from MarkLines (via Reuters), Toyota claimed 39% of the one-ton pickup market through September.
Thailand is also Toyota’s fourth-highest production center, behind Japan, China, and the US. However, the country is quickly going electric.
Although Toyota, Isuzu, and Honda are still the top-selling brands in Thailand, BYD and other Chinese EV makers are surging ahead.
BYD, which entered the market last July, already accounts for over a third of EV sales. It also surpassed Nissan, Mazda, and Mitsubishi to represent around 4% of new vehicle sales, according to AutoLife Thailand.
Toyota to counter BYD with electric pickup in Thailand
Toyota Thailand built the HiLux BEV and sent it to Australia last month for testing. The electric pickup was tested by local engineers and “large-volume” HiLux buyers to provide feedback.
Toyota Australia sales boss Sean Hanley, who drove the EV truck, said, “It’s clear the concept vehicle’s all-electric powertrain delivers the impressive torque you’d normally expect from a diesel engine.”
Pras Ganesh, executive vice president of Toyota Daihatsu Engineering & Manufacturing, said the company was adapting its electric pickup to local conditions. It’s also ramping up electric vehicle R&D in the nation to keep pace with incoming competition.
Ganesh told Reuters, “We will first start looking at public transit.” He added a few electric pickups will be tested in Pattaya next year as “songthaews,” or share taxis.
Toyota is also considering testing other electric trucks for different uses, such as last-mile delivery.
Meanwhile, BYD is working on its electric pickup truck. The EV truck was spotted last month during the final phases of testing earlier this year with a big BYD logo up front, rugged fenders, and four doors.
A leaked patent last month gave us a closer look at the Ford F-150 Lightning look-alike. Reports suggest the electric pickup will be around 209 inches long, more in line with the Ford Ranger.
Toyota showed off another electric pickup concept at the Japan Mobility Show last month. The Toyota EPU, or Electric PickUp, could rival the Ford Maverick as a midsize EV pickup.
Other Chinese automakers, such as Geely’s Radar, have already begun shipping electric trucks to Thailand.
With the HiLux being the bestselling vehicle over the past seven years, it only makes sense for an electric version.
Thailand’s government wants 30% of vehicles built in the country to be electric by the end of the decade. EVs account for over 10% of total car sales, up from 1% last year. Other automakers, including BYD, are taking advantage of the transition.
Toyota is feeling the urgency in a critical market to go electric. Another top Japanese automaker, Isuzu, plans to release an electric version of its D-Max pickup in the nation.
The electric HiLux BEV will likely do well in Thailand, but Toyota will need to get a move on.
Author: Peter Johnson