A-BAT A Go, Tundra Light-Duty Diesel Shelved
In order to succeed in today's challenging truck market, Toyota is moving forward with plans to build a new small pickup and is indefinitely shelving a previously announced light-duty diesel engine for the full-size Tundra, sources tell PickupTrucks.com.
Toyota's future compact pickup is said to be based on the innovative A-BAT (Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck) concept truck that debuted at the 2008 Detroit auto show. The A-BAT featured a footprint smaller than a Toyota RAV4 SUV, an expandable 4-foot cargo box and Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive.
Sources say two fuel-efficient powertrains will be offered in the truck at launch, including a gasoline-electric hybrid one and a four-cylinder gas-only version.
The only true compact offered in the segment today is the Ford Ranger. Its competitors, including the Toyota Tacoma, have grown into midsize pickups. The Ranger hasn't had a major mechanical update since 1998 and is expected to end production in 2011.
Automotive News reports that Toyota execs acknowledge supplier bids have gone out for the new compact pickup but say the program could be killed if production cost estimates prove to be too high.
Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe also made news at the Detroit auto show when he told journalists a diesel-powered Tundra would be "offered in the near future." But the high price of diesel fuel, high costs necessary to meet federal emissions regulations and slowing Tundra sales are all said to have combined to cancel those plans at least for the time being.
Tundra sales volume through August 2008 was down 15 percent from last year.
In August, Toyota paused Tundra and Sequoia SUV production for three months at its plants in San Antonio and Princeton, Ind., and announced that all Tundra and Sequoia production would be consolidated at the San Antonio plant. Production of Toyota's Highlander SUV will replace the Tundra in Princeton.
Sources say Toyota doesn't think enough diesel-equipped Tundras would be sold to be profitable. A diesel Tundra was expected to use a U.S.-spec version of the twin-turbo D-4D 4.5-liter V-8 that's used overseas in the Toyota Land Cruiser SUV.
A source inside Toyota says if and when the U.S. full-size truck market recovers, plans for the light-duty diesel could be quickly resurrected.