When Toyota unveiled its super-sized Tundra pickup a couple of years ago, environmentalists went apoplectic. How could the darling of the green car world put out a hulking pickup with city fuel economy in the low teens? As if in response to criticism about the hairy-knuckled Tundra, Toyota has produced a kinder, gentler concept pickup in the form of the Toyota A-BAT.
The vehicle might appeal to all those other pickup drivers who seldom load lumber, but want versatility, roominess, and sleek styling. It’s something like a futuristic Honda Ridgeline with a hybrid drive. Powered by a 4-cylinder gas engine combined with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, the A-BAT was unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Versatility is the key word for the A-BAT’s design, which is capable of both off-road terrain and city traffic. The A-BAT concept utilizes a unibody platform to grant car-like handling and overall smooth ride quality. Aesthetically, the A-BAT takes on a tight, aerodynamic look, and a trapezoidal profile. Its cab-forward design, fast angles, short overhangs, and flattened windshield all lend to a new age appearance. That’s counter-balanced with large off-road ready 19-inch wheel, which have been pushed to the vehicle’s corners to create bulk. If all that isn’t tricky enough, the A-BAT touts translucent solar panels in the top surface of the dashboard to capture sunlight and convert it into energy. In case you wondering what A-BAT stands for, it’s “Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck.” Go figure.
The bed of the A-BAT is actually larger than it looks for hauling materials or gear. It is also equipped with special lighting to illuminate the load, sliding tie downs, and an AC power outlet. Inside, the four-passenger A-BAT offers various seating and storage configurations. The interior features a highly-styled dash and steering wheel. The A-BAT also has a retractable portable navigation unit with a seven-inch diagonal screen and Wi-Fi internet.
This concept, whether it ever comes to fruition, makes one think about the potential shape of a vehicle that embodies both the persona of a pickup truck, and the spirit of a hybrid.