By Tim Campbell, Managing Director, TruckWorld TV
This article was published in the May 2017 edition of NTEA News.
The 38th Bangkok International Motor Show, held in late March and early April 2017, offered a mixture of cars, pickups and commercial vehicles on display at the IMPACT Arena, Exhibition and Convention Center.
Thailand is well known for one type of commercial vehicle — pickup trucks. The nation is second only to the U.S. in pickup sales, but on a per-capita basis, this country of 66 million people is actually number one in the world, so it’s not surprising that nearly every manufacturer offers at least one pickup.
That said, these are the one-ton payload (2,200-pound) variety, based on the European style rather than full-size pickups such as Ford F-150 or Ram 1500. Indeed, the exceptional market size means all the major players have a production facility in the country, with Toyota, Isuzu and Mitsubishi the leading manufacturers. Ford also produces the Ranger here.
Double-cab and one-ton pickup trucks account for 60 percent of Thailand’s total vehicle production, which is around 2–2.5 million, according to the Thai Automobile Industry Association. About half of those vehicles are exported.
Why are they so popular? A pickup, which can be used both privately and commercially, is the work truck of Thailand. A key difference between personal and vocational use is mainly in the cab. Most of the single and extended cab (crew cab) vehicles are used as work trucks, whereas double cabs are generally for personal use or, at least, dual purpose.
Toyota Hilux Revo is Thailand’s best-selling pickup.
The Toyota Hilux is one of the most popular pickups in the world, and in Thailand, it is the market leader with the eighth generation model launched last year. Hilux is the U.S. equivalent of Tacoma and is generally powered by a 177 brake horsepower and 450 Newton meters (332 foot-pounds) 2.8-liter diesel matched to a six-speed automatic or manual.
Manufactured in Thailand, Isuzu D-Max is the second best seller and features the smallest engine in the sector — a 1.9-liter diesel rated at 150 brake horsepower with a 3.5-ton towing capacity (7,700 pounds).
The third best seller in Thailand is Mitsubishi Triton (also known as L200 in some global markets). The latest version, launched in 2016, is powered by a 2.4-liter engine with 154 brake horsepower rated at 380 Newton meters (280 foot-pounds). The load bed is 1,850 millimeters long and 1,470 millimeters wide based on the club cab (between a single and double cab).
Ford Ranger with 3.2-liter engine.
Ford has a manufacturing plant in Thailand, and Ranger is its leading model. Wildtrak features a class-leading 3.2-liter diesel engine rated at almost 200 brake horsepower (147 kilowatts) and 470 Newton meters (347 foot-pounds). Payload is around 2,350 pounds with single-cab load bed length of 2,370 millimeters and width of 1,560 millimeters.
Chevy Silverado (left) and Colorado (right).
At the Bangkok Motor Show, Chevrolet displayed a full-size Silverado by its Asian-based
Colorado, which is built on the Isuzu D-Max. While both vehicles share DNA, they are not direct copies. Interestingly, General Motors announced the end of its relationship with Isuzu, as it feels the product does not fit with its global pickup plans.
Tata Xenon with chassis cab and dropside body.
Major Indian manufacturer Tata displayed the latest version of its Xenon pickup featured in many Asian markets. The product is available with most cabs and a popular platform/chassis cab version.
Nissan’s Navara is one of its global success stories. The latest generation, launched in the last 18 months or so, features a 2.3-liter diesel engine which is also fitted to its commercial vehicle van (NV400). In the European sector, the pickup uniquely features independent coil springs on the rear suspension, whereas Asian versions have the more traditional parabolic/semi-elliptical springs.
The Chinese Maxus V80 van.
The prestigious MG British brand is now owned by Shanghai Automotive (SAIC). After the collapse of British van manufacturer LDV, SAIC (via Russian Group GAZ) bought worldwide rights to Maxus. However, it may be a long time, if ever, until U.S. customers see this van.
Learn more by visiting truckworldtv.co.uk and the TruckWorld TV YouTube channel, or follow Tim on Facebook or Twitter at truckworld_tv. For more global articles and information, visit ntea.com/globalopportunities.
For upfitters seeking involvement in the world’s largest per capita pickup truck market, it means not only developing full-size pickup truck solutions, but also looking at medium-size products such as those used in the U.S., including Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado and the soon-to-reenter Ford Ranger.