4 min read
09 Nov

Author: Philip Uwaoma

We mean every word in the title of this article, down to the part about "serious truckers." Modern pickup trucks these days boast of being great for work and play. Well, the IMV 0 is perfect for work and work, unless your idea of play is Death Race-like versions of the ETRC (European Truck Racing Championship), in which case the IMV offers just the kind of chassis and modular platform to build any monster you fancy. 

Just around this time last year, the popular YouTuber Supercar Blondie unboxed what was tagged the cheapest truck in the world, a Chinese-made electric pickup called Changli Explorer that literally came in a box. According to Supercar Blondie, the Changli Explorer cost just $2,000, which should make it the world's cheapest car at the time, that is, until you bump into a $1,200 new car with a generic name on Alibaba. Ha. 

Here's the thing.

Even cash-strapped shoppers still preferred to cough up the $13,000 base price for a Chevy Spark than pay $2,000 for Changli. It's not hard to see why. Changli was so small and "playful" that the interior featured fake wood accents, complete with a rearview mirror held in place with a suction cup. For serious truck shoppers looking for the cheapest thing with the best bang for the buck, the upcoming Toyota IMV 0 is the one to watch. 

Related Reading: 16 Toughest Pickup Trucks Ever Built On Earth (8 Every Nigerian Man Should Have) 

Toyota IMV 0: What Is It?

what is the toyota IMV 0?

Toyota introduced the IMV Project in 2002, intending to use the modular platform to develop and manufacture pickup trucks, minivans, and SUVs outside Japan to reduce production costs. These vehicles were eventually launched in 2004 as the seventh-generation Hilux, first-generation Innova, and first-generation Fortuner.

The IMV 0's remarkable versatility serves as a customizable platform for various trucking needs. This Honda Ridgeline-sized pickup features an electric powertrain, a two-door cabin with seating for two, and a flexible flat-bed section adaptable to numerous configurations. 

Initially, IMV vehicle production was concentrated in Thailand, Indonesia, Argentina, and South Africa, serving markets in Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania, Latin America, and the Middle East. They came fully assembled or as knock-down kits, with key components manufactured in different regions, such as diesel engines in Thailand, petrol engines in Indonesia, and manual transmissions in the Philippines and India. 

The IMV platform enjoyed increasing sales milestones. Toyota sold a million IMV vehicles in 2006, 2 million in 2008, 3 million in 2009, 4 million in 2010, and 5 million by March 2012. "IMV" stands for "Innovative International Multi-purpose Vehicle." It uses a ladder frame chassis construction. 

IMV-based vehicles are available in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive configurations, with both full-time and rear-based part-time options. The front suspension features an independent double-wishbone design, while the rear suspension is semi-dependent, and the engines are longitudinally mounted. 

The Toyota IMV 0: An Affordable Hilux Champ

Toyota IMV 0 Hilux Champ.

The Toyota IMV 0 concept showed us what to expect, but a recent report uncovered more interesting details. Apparently, the forthcoming truck may carry the Hilux Champ nameplate when it hits the ASEAN markets by 2025. 

According to Autocar India, the Toyota Hilux Champ will be the first production model based on the IMV 0 platform. The truck will cater to a more budget-conscious market by distinguishing itself from the next generation of the Toyota Hilux, offering a simpler design and equipment package to maintain a competitive price point. 

Toyota's strategy to introduce a cheaper Hilux should expand its market share in the truck and LCV segments in emerging markets. Recent sightings of a camouflaged IMV 0 pickup truck prototype in Indonesia suggest that the production version will look very much like the protoype. 

The prototype featured a single cab design, a flatbed, and small-diameter steel wheels. Official renderings from Toyota showcased similar minimalist versions of the IMV 0 and Rangga concepts, retaining the boxy front fascia and the Land Cruiser's design language, albeit with a lot more unpainted plastic trim and basic halogen headlights. 

However, the IMV 0's defining character (and possibly its primary selling point) is its modular nature, allowing it to wear various body styles to meet diverse customer demands. 

The platform has already birth chassis pickup, overlander, camper, ambulance, food truck, and low-rider racing truck versions, as evidenced by real-life prototypes and renderings. This adaptability ensures that the IMV 0 can serve a wide range of transportation needs. 

Related Reading: Meet The Small But Mighty 500-Horsepower Telo Truck MT1, A New Electric Pickup By US Startup Company

The Toyota IMV 0 "Hilux Champ" Specifications

Toyota IMV 0 specs.

While specific details on the IMV 0 pickup truck's powertrain are scarce, the signposts are pointing to a combustion engine, with a focus on self-charging hybrid petrol and diesel variants, available in standard RWD and possibly 4WD configurations. 

According to Road & Track, the base IMV 0 configuration includes rear-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter inline-four gasoline engine paired with a 5-speed manual transmission. 

Following its debut at the Japan Mobility Show, Road & Track got up close and personal with a test-IMV 0, equipped with Toyota's 1TR-FE 2.0-liter four-cylinder dual-VVTi engine producing 137 horsepower. It sounds uninspiring, but the vehicle only weighs 1,555 kg (3,248 lbs) as is. 

Plus, these specs are specific to ASEAN markets. You can expect variations in the IMV 0's powertrains, body styles, and nameplate in other regions. 

Additionally, Toyota is rumored to be developing an SUV riding on the same platform as the Hilux Champ, also set to debut in emerging markets a year later. We bet the SUV will share the same front-end design to trim research and production costs. 

Toyota IMV 0: The World's Cheapest Pickup Truck That's Never Coming To America

Toyota IMV 0 concept.

The IMV 0 will come as close as Mexico, but we don't see this truck making it to North America officially, partially due to import tariffs and safety requirements that would inadvertently drive up its cost. Toyota has since kept the Hilux away from North American shores and gave it the Tacoma instead, and we don't see that marketing trend changing with the IMV 0.

In the meantime, Canoo offers a satisfying lineup of similarly versatile pickups and vehicles, inclusive of all the ostentatious trappings and gizmos that makes work a lot more fun.

The Toyota IMV 0 is the world's most affordable pickup truck designed for serious truckers more interested in getting the job done than comfy seats, modern gizmos, and uber styling. The truck's minimalist interior has no screens, radio, or even a tachometer. 

Developed in pickup-crazed Thailand, the IMV 0 is a versatile platform with the potential for modular units that can transform it into a mobile coffee shop, DJ booth, or overlanding RV. 

Despite its bare-bones starting point, Toyota designed the IMV 0 for easy customization, with pre-drilled areas for adding accessories and replaceable components. The truck's rugged build is ideal for challenging terrains and cargo hauling typical of the markets it serves, ensuring Jack is never a dull boy despite being all work and no play. 

This truck offers a back-to-the-roots experience without traveling back in time when trucks were nothing more than workhorses for doing the grunt work. Today, “grunt work” also applies to businesses with transportation needs for their products and service tools, and the IMV 0 is getting ready to serve without any expectations of ostentatious, can-live-without features. 

No tear is shed over the IMV 0's stripped-down-to-the-essentials nature since the feature-loaded 2024 Toyota Corolla starts at $22,995 versus the IMV 0's estimated $10,000 starting price at launch in Thailand.

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