I note that Toyota is introducing (overseas) its IMV 0, a bare-basics no-frills vehicle designed for simplicity, economy, and the toughness necessary to succeed in Third World markets, where road quality is often conspicuous by its absence and maintenance may be a shade-tree-mechanic affair.
Compared to the features of the Corolla sedan, Toyota’s entry-level model in the United States, the IMV 0 is in an entirely different universe. Forget LED headlights, power windows and door locks, or standard adaptive cruise control. The IMV 0 doesn’t even have any trim on the A-pillar. The instrument cluster dial that would normally show engine RPM is just a big blank circle. It doesn’t even have a shift light. Then again, the 2024 Corolla starts at $22,995. The IMV 0/Hilux Champ will be the equivalent of about $10,000 when it launches in Thailand.
And no, there are no plans to sell this truck in the United States, although it will be sold in Mexico. It’s nice to think that a bare-bones truck at a rock-bottom price could find a customer base in America, but that’s unlikely to sway Toyota, which is only making the thinnest of margins on the base model. And besides, a big reason we don’t already get these cheap foreign-market trucks is because importing them from North America comes with the 25 percent “Chicken Tax” tariff. Add in the cost of stability control, lane-keeping, automatic emergency braking included in the Toyota Safety Sense suite that is nearly standard across the U.S. lineup and it’s easy to see the price ballooning into Ford Maverick territory. That’s for a truck that doesn’t even have map pockets in the doors.
. . .
The closest equivalent to the interior of the IMV 0 we have in the United States is probably a rental moving van. Vinyl seats, rubber-lined floor, and a trio of HVAC controls under the hole where a radio might go. For this truck’s Southeast Asia and South American markets, less stuff also means less stuff to break. On the smooth surface of Toyota’s oval track, the IMV 0 feels slightly bouncy with nothing to settle the rear leaf springs. The steering is light, and the gear shifter is somewhat rubbery. The IMV 0 feels more rugged than cheap, the kind of vehicle that can stand up to the daily abuse of hauling cargo on under-developed roads. Acceleration is best described as present and accounted for - on our brief lap around the test track it was hard to tell exactly how slow or fast the IMV 0 is. But we’re not sure it even matters. There’s an innate appeal to the simplicity of the IMV 0, the singular focus of hauling people and stuff from point A to point B. They don’t ask you how, they ask you how many. And to that, the IMV 0 seems like a truck that gets the job done, one way or another.
There's more at the link.
I've driven untold thousands of miles in vehicles similar to this. For example, back in the early 1980's, Toyota in South Africa introduced what it called the Toyota Utility Vehicle, or TUV. It looked similar to, and was based on, the second-generation Kijang/Tamaraw utility vehicle marketed in Asia, pictured below. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)
It was a boxy, squared-off 2-seat pickup-type vehicle with no creature comforts. A 10-seater minibus version was later sold as well (and, when fully loaded, had one of the most bone-rattling suspensions I've ever had the misfortune to endure!). It had a very basic 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine, a four-on-the-floor manual transmission (with a clutch that made interesting noises if you weren't careful with it), and just about nothing else. Nevertheless, it sold well to motorists who couldn't afford anything better, and did the job for them. I recall them without any affection, but with a nod for their reliability - they always got me where I needed to be. Other manufacturers tried to compete with more-or-less stripped-down versions of basic pickup trucks, but none were as low-cost or as successful as the TUV.
None of these basic vehicles would pass current US safety regulations, and would lack just about every comfort to which US drivers have become accustomed; but they work, and they get untold millions of people around the world where they need to be every day, and back again. Given the current prices of US vehicles, you could probably buy two of the IMV 0 for one of even the cheapest vehicles currently sold here; three or four for the price of a typical American pickup truck. They'd get more done, and be far better value for money.
(Oh - and let's scrap the "chicken tax" while we're at it. Why should American taxpayers subsidize the Big Three and their oversized, unnecessarily tricked-out pickups when much cheaper alternatives are out there, if only we could get them? I wonder how much the Big Three are paying our politicians in "re-election contributions" or "consulting fees" to have them keep the tax in place?)