International - There’s no denying that there is some open space in the sub-one-tonne bakkie market, both in South Africa and abroad, but just how much international sales potential this market has is still up to debate.
However it’s interesting to learn that Toyota is currently having this discussion. The company’s executive vice president of sales for North America, Cooper Eriksen, recently told Motor Trend that such a vehicle is currently under consideration.
"One of the spaces we're looking at - that won't be short-term - is where the compact pick-up truck is going. You have Santa Cruz and Maverick on the market, and it will be interesting to see (Volkswagen) Scout,” Eriksen told Motor Trend.
“Today, we have the market really well covered with Tacoma, but that (a compact bakkie) could be a possibility and something we continue to look at," he added.
The Toyota Tacoma, by the way, is the US market equivalent of the Hilux, and it is rumoured that the two one-tonne products could merge for the next generation.
At this stage it’s unclear whether a sub-Hilux bakkie would take the form of a unibody or body-on-frame vehicle.
"If there's a customer that needs a rugged, smaller body-on-frame vehicle, we can consider that, but if it's more for urban use and less extreme off-road, then it would make more sense to use the TNGA unibody platform," Eriksen said.
Considering how the market has evolved thus far with new contenders like the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, Toyota would likely go the unibody route, a move that would see it using the latest TNGA modular architecture that underpins models like the Corolla and Rav4.
Could it even take the form of a Corolla Cross bakkie? That would be interesting, while also opening up the possibility of South African production.
However, it remains to be seen whether Toyota will even build a compact bakkie for international markets, let alone one that might be sold in South Africa. Yet given how dominant the Toyota Hilux is in this country there could certainly be sales potential for a cheaper and more urban-friendly bakkie with a Toyota badge.
Interestingly Toyota South Africa did toy with the idea of a creating a single cab version of the previous-generation Corolla Quest, which apparently even made it to the prototype stage, although the product was ultimately canned due to economic considerations.
If Toyota does end up creating a new compact bakkie for international markets, its biggest rivals would be the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, as well as the Fiat Toro in some South American markets. Chevrolet is also said to be working on a new compact double cab to replace the Montana, which was sold as the Ute in South Africa until GM divested.
It’s worth noting, however, that compact pick-ups are not exactly setting the market alight in regions such as the US, which favour larger pick-ups. Here the Maverick managed just 19 245 unit sales in the first quarter of 2022, compared to around 140 000 Ford F-150s.