TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. took a big step Wednesday toward its goal of creating a global production and supply network by launching a new pickup in Thailand, the first model built under the ambitious project.
The pickup, called the Hilux VIGO, is the first of five models to be developed under the so-called Innovative International Multipurpose Vehicles, or IMV, Project, which aims to build vehicles for regions other than Japan and North America by drawing on Toyota's global resources.
Toyota announced the project two years ago as the next step in globalizing its operations, after its efforts to produce more vehicles where they are sold. Toyota executives have said the IMV Project is one of the most ambitious ventures ever undertaken by the company.
Under the scheme, Toyota plans to build four other IMV vehicles -- two pickups, a minivan and an SUV -- mostly at its four main production bases of Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina and South Africa.
The IMV vehicles will be designed to be sold in more than 140 countries. Toyota expects production to exceed 500,000 units in 2006.
After the Hilux VIGO in Thailand, Indonesia will begin producing a new minivan next month, while South Africa and Argentina will build a pickup and SUV next year. Thailand will also manufacture the SUV starting next year.