Puzzling Possibility: Prius Pickup

Back in early 2006, when Toyota took the wraps of its new bigger, badder, and more powerful Tundra pickup, the company was clearly taking aim at Detroit’s last stronghold: the full-size pickup truck. At that time, company executives hinted at a hybrid version, but Toyota was going for Detroit’s jugular vein—so a gas-electric drivetrain on the 5.7-liter V8 he-man Tundra made little sense.

Times have changed and the full-size pickup—while still a high volume segment—has lost some of its luster. Tundra sales, along with the entire pickup segment, have slid this year. So talk of a Tundra hybrid—long gone down the memory hole—has been replaced by rumors that Toyota could put the A-BAT hybrid pickup into production.

In fact, Toyota confirmed last week that it asked suppliers to bid on parts needed to produce a vehicle based on the Toyota A-BAT concept hybrid truck. Though it’s far from a commitment to production, it shows Toyota is seriously looking into a new small-size super-efficient pickup. The game of one-upmanship has shifted from bigger to better (in terms of fuel economy).

When it was shown at this January’s Detroit Auto Show, the A-BAT was powered by a four-cylinder engine and Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive—meaning it could easily contain components shared with Toyota’s other hybrid models. Featuring a short four-foot bed with some flexible configurations and 180 inches in overall length, the A-BAT concept is significantly shorter than Toyota’s current compact truck, the Tacoma. The car-based vehicle is similar in concept to Honda’s Ridgeline pickup, though even smaller.

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  • Bryce

    This would be interesting and not a half bad idea. Pick-ups 20 or 30 years ago only came standard with 200 hp, and that seemed to do the job. A four banger with an electric engine could definetly accomplish numbers like that and get fuel economy numbers well into the 30s I would expect.

  • Boon

    What I need is a hybrid minivan! I have three kids and only minivan or SUV have the room for three car seats in the back. I’m sure many parents like me are eager to have a hybrid minivan than a pickup. When am I going to get one 🙁

  • steved28

    This seems to be a market for people who want a pick up truck, who once again do not need one. You might as well cover the measly 4ft bed and call it an SUV. It is however, much better than the alternative, those who purchase a full size pick up, cover the bed, and use it as their daily commuter.

    Speaking from some experience, I own an 11 yr old F-150, which now sits in my driveway over 90% of the time. And I probably use a my bed more than most pick up users. Even I was surprised to find how small the percentage was that I actually needed my truck.

  • Paul Beerkens

    Great all we need. An opportunity for people who feel bad about driving a V8 to maximize their pollution while still feeling warm and fuzzy about driving a hybrid.

  • Dom

    What I’d like to see is an efficient Ford Ranger or Dodge Dakota sized pickup. I’d prefer a small diesel engine and a manual transmission over a hybrid system though.

  • DJB

    We need to think about electric trucks. This would have benefits for the environment and for towing/hauling capacity. Electric vehicles can be run with energy generated from clean, renewable sources like solar and wind power, which is critical for human civilization going forward. Additionally, electric drivetrains have lots of torque, which would give trucks more capability for those who actually use them for their intended purpose. Plug-in hybrids can be a bridge to full electric as we work to build charging infrastructure.

    This is win-win for society.

  • daver1001

    My daughter has two Priuses. I set her an email the
    first day I saw an A-BAT and told her to buy me one
    and send the registration paper asap.
    Love the look and the idea.

  • Samie

    V8 Trucks are a waste if you really need a truck for things like heavy hauling or say a higher bed load get a diesel. Maybe hybrid diesels will make more improvements. By the way where is the hitch on that truck in the picture? It seems the days of the S-10 are done and this reminds me of a S-10. I own a V6 Dodge Ram and like Steve don’t use it that much anymore. But when I use to use it for work I was limited in my towing capacity and bed loads so I really don’t see how this 4-cylinder w/ the added torque could be functional for lets say uses of even standard lightweight trucks. Not a bad idea but lets see if hybrid technology can improve to be added in at least real lightweight trucks.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    A hybrid pickup is a great idea (sorry city folks, there really IS a use for pickup trucks), however, Toyota’s hybrid synergy drive is a lousy architecture. For a pickup, they definitely need a series hybrid architecture with a very high-torque electric motor to handle surges such as pulling a boat out of the water . A small ICE (diesel is of course, my preference) generator that can handle the average load would then be used to charge the battery and deal with electric trailer brakes and lights.
    This is essentially how trains have hauled their loads for over half a century.

  • Heags

    10 years ago, Ford had an all electirc version of the Ford Ranger, and I believe Chevy had an all electric version of the S-10.

    I wrote a paper in college (1998) on electric vehicles, and the vision of the electric car market at that time, and I specifically remember reading and referenceing an article about when Ford introduced the electric Ranger to the press, they all thought something went wrong, because they couldn’t hear the engine, only then to realize that electric motors do not sound like ICE.

    They were only fleet vehicles at the time, leased out to utility companies. I guess they went the way of the EV1.

    Now hear it is 10 years later, and we are only hoping for a hybrid pick up.

    I for one do not have a truck, or need a truck, but I do miss having one. And if there comes a time when there are electric pick ups, or extremely efficient ones, I would get one.

  • Timmmmmmy

    I have a Toyota Rav4 (that gets 30mpg) and I use a 4X8 trailer when I need to haul stuff. I personally would never purchase a truck because I need to haul 3 kids to school in the morning as well as a bunch of camera equipment. I used to drive a suburban. Those days are gone. Good riddance! I want a 2009 Honda Insight (when I can afford one).

  • Anonymous

    I think hybrid wagons and and minivans have a much larger market. Manufacturers just need to bite the bullet and admit that the days of huge profit margins on huge vehicles is going away fast. The current market can’t sustain the number of manufacturers, some are going to go under. And the rest will to have to deal with lower profit margins.

  • Ross Nicholson

    I just wish someone literate would read these articles before they are posted. Most of us can spell three letter words.

  • Andrew Bacon

    I want a hybrid pickup! I’m a drummer and need to drag musical equipment all over the place… HybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickupHybridpickup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • summer

    hybrid pickup will be ok for me but im worried for the engine… if the performance itself of the hybrid engine is great then i would consider buying it for sure!


  • thomatt12

    The New A-Bat from Toyota is a really good car! I like the design plus it’s a hybrid too!

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