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 So talk of a Tundra hybrid—long gone down the memory hole—has been replaced by rumors that Toyota could put the A-BAT hybrid pickup into production.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