For one of the largest automobile manufacturers not to be present in the F1, World Rally Championship or even the FIA GT championship is a surprise. Toyota exited WRC in the 90’s and then last decade F1 too. Now Toyota Motorsports in association with their South African dealer, Imperial Toyota has entered the Dakar. Toyota had last year entered the Dakar too with 3 specially prepared Hilux pickups and finished the event in 3rd, 6th and 11th position.
Toyota has entered the 2013 Dakar with 2 Hilux’s driven by 2009 Dakar winners Giniel de Villiers from South Africa and Duncan Vos. 2012 was the first time that a factory supported Toyota Hilux competed in the Dakar in the top T1 class which was earlier dominated by Volkswagen’s prototype Race Touareg and Mitsubishi’s Pajero. Giniel de Villiers in fact had won the Dakar on a Race Touareg.
The Toyota Hilux began its journey as a true workhorse. It was plain and simple but over the years this workhorse has transformed itself into a lifestyle vehicle. The sixth generation Hilux aims at carrying forward the tag of being both a legendary pick-up and being a bona-fide off-roader. In India currently we only have the Mahindra Bolero Pickup, the Scorpio based Getaway and the Tata Xenon pick up which are sold in the market in this segment. While the Bolero pickup is quite agricultural, the Xenon and the Getaway are pitched as lifestyle pickups but with them priced at nearly 10lakhs, response has been poor. There though definitely exists room for a more serious lifestyle pickup to be introduced in the market. Toyota in our market is perceived both as an upmarket and reliable brand and these are some reasons for the Fortuner SUV being the runaway success that it has become. The Fortuner is based on the Hilux pickup and the success of the SUV could rub off on the pickup if the manufacturer can price it around 15lakhs.