Toyota Champ is the company’s newest commercial model
The Japanese brand says it is a Thailand-only model for now, but there are signs it could go global
Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) revealed the new Toyota Champ mini-truck at an event held in Thailand on November 27. The 1-tonne range has been a staple in that region since 2004 and has been introduced in more than 180 countries around the world.
Domestic sales have so far totalled more than 2.7-million units while exports have surpassed 4-million units.
In its latest evolution, the two-seater Toyota Champ measures 5,300mm in length, 1,785mm width and 1,735mm height. It’s marketed as an affordable load-lugger for the Thai market and launches in eight grades, short and long-wheelbase versions and three engine types — 2.0l and 2.7l petrols and a 2.4l diesel — all driving the rear-wheels exclusively through a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.
It is customisable for bespoke applications, and Toyota showcased no fewer than 11 other ways to configure it including an unequipped type with a flat deck. The deck has bolt holes at various locations so that custom accessories can be easily attached using bolts and nuts, with more than 100 accessory manufacturers on call to please customers. Prices range from 459,000 Thai baht (R245,814) to 577,000 (R309,008).
It forms a part of the company’s international Innovative Multipurpose Vehicle (IMV) series consisting of three types of pickup trucks, minivans and SUVs. It was developed under the leadership of Akio Toyoda, then-CEO of the Asia region, with local engineers in the hope of contributing to the Asian economy together with the people of Asia.
The big question for local motoring scribes is whether the model will be sold in SA, based on its price and the fact that small trucks are useful for entrepreneurs and large local companies the world over. Toyota SA is not willing to divulge any plans to introduce the Champ locally, but sources have reliably told Motor News that the prototypes of the truck which shares a name with a nostalgic model from Japanese rival Nissan have been seen testing in the SA.
Furthermore, the sources tell us the cars are badged “Stout”, hinting that should Toyota SA have plans to introduce it locally, it may also revive the legendary nameplate instead of riding on a rival’s historic laurels.
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