Toyota Thailand begins shipping its HiLux pickup to Japan as the automaker marks passing the 3-million-unit export mark.

Toyota’s International Multipurpose Vehicle (IMV) project has designated Thai facilities and parts producers as the main manufacturing and export hubs to 122 countries since 2004.

The IMV makes Thailand Toyota’s global manufacturing base for one-ton pickups, multipurpose vehicles, engines and automotive parts.

At first, the pickup was produced at Toyota’s Samrong plant before expanding to the Toyota Banpho Plant. The two plants have a combined capacity of 450,000 units.

Toyota Thailand President Michinobu Sugata says the 3 million exports show the acceptance of Thai automobile production as a global standard.

He says this success has culminated in the HiLux shipments to Japan, a country with a high standard of quality control for any imported product.

“As a result of our hard work, especially in its quality assurance, the model was finally exported from Thailand and introduced in Japan,” Sugata says in a statement. “We are happy to see that it gained the overwhelming welcome-back from the Toyota dealers and the customers in Japan after 13 years of its absence.”

Toyota Japan Managing Officer Hiroki Nakajima says Toyota customers in Japan have been waiting for the arrival of the HiLux.

“We are confident that Hilux will be a roaring success in Japan,” he says. “We have received an overwhelming response from customers, which is a fantastic sign of great things to come. This also means the sales target of HiLux has already gone beyond expectations.”

Toyota Thailand’s exports have earned $62.8 billion since 2004, including vehicles worth $44.7 billion and engines and spare parts worth $18.1 billion.

Thai Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana says in the 55 years Toyota has operated in Thailand it has become the automotive industry leader and has taken part in driving the industrial sector, especially by expanding exports.