The Hilux is going home.
After being absent from Toyota’s domestic market for 13 years, Japanese fans will finally have access to the legendary bakkie once again.
Although it has been sold in 180 countries and territories since introduction in 1968, Toyota made a decision to retract this model from the Japanese market in 2004. Since then, those few committed Japanese off-road enthusiasts and utilitarian-types who desperately needed Hilux for work and play were denied. Not anymore.
Despite the potential burden of ownership, which includes an annual inspection and severe toll fees, product planners believe that there is demand which justifies servicing. Toyota estimates that a market of about 2000 users fully justify the reintroduction of Hilux to Japan. With such a low sales forecast, Hilux is sure to be quite an exclusive ownership proposition in Japan, unlike South Africa.
Compare the sales numbers and it is amazing to note that South African buyers purchase more Toyota bakkies in a month than Japanese dealers are estimating to sell in a year. That said, Toyota’s renowned bakkie remains a phenomenon, with 17.3m units produced and delivered to market.
There is one oddity with the reintroduction of Hilux to Japan. With source production coming from Thailand, these bakkies will be a notable exception to the local production rule: where if you buy a Japanese brand vehicle in Japan, it’s almost always locally built too.