Toyota plans to start testing battery powered pickup trucks in Thailand by the end of the year to fend off rising competition from Chinese automakers in the country’s fast growing zero emissions vehicle market, according to local reports citing a company official.

A growing number of Chinese automakers have announced plans to produce battery electric vehicles (BEVs) in Thailand to supply south east Asia and beyond.

BEV sales in Thailand alone have increased particularly fast this year with volume quadrupling to 73,341 units in the last 12 months. The Thai government wants BEVs to account for 30% of total vehicle production in the country, or 600,000-700,000 units, by 2030.

Toyota unveiled a battery powered prototype of its popular Hilux pickup last year, but has not yet announced plans to put it into commercial production. Thailand is the company’s main global production base for this model. The company currently sells the bz4X electric SUV in Thailand but sales have trailed those of increasingly popular Chinese brands such as BYD and Great Wall Motor.

Pras Ganesh, executive vice president of Toyota Daihatsu Engineering & Manufacturing, said company engineers are currently working on adapting its battery powered pickups to local conditions. Toyota is also expanding its research and development (R&D) operations in Thailand to include BEV capability.

Ganesh said a number of electric pickup trucks will be trialled in Pattaya from next year, initially for use as local taxis, saying: “We will start by targeting the local public transport segment and also last mile delivery services”.

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