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 So talk of a Tundra hybrid—long gone down the memory hole—has been replaced by rumors that Toyota could put the A-BAT hybrid pickup into production.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.