Despite the fact that its full-sized truck competitors from Ford, General Motors and Dodge will all offer new small-displacement diesel engines within the next year or so, Toyota has reportedly canceled plans for a similar powertrain for its Tundra. Instead of dumping money into the stalled full-size market, the automaker has reportedly contacted key suppliers for quotes on systems for its radical A-BAT concept truck from the Detroit Auto Show.
Toyota has confirmed that it is looking for potential suppliers for the vehicle but stresses that it has not been given the green light. Suppliers have been asked to bid on making parts for the compact truck, with the list of items including a four-cylinder petrol engine as well as a hybrid module,possibly sourced from the Camry hybrid. If it went into production, the A-BAT would join the lonely Ford Ranger in the small pickup market and would use a uni-body platform in lieu of a full frame, which is standard fare on most other trucks.
According to Toyota, seeking bids on components is a standard practice in evaluating the costs of production, and the A-BAT could still be in competition for a place in the company’s compact car lineup against the Urban Cruiser compact SUV. If the costs end up too high for the A-BAT then Toyota will be forced to abandon the project, a situation which is looking increasingly likely due to the vehicle’s expensive unibody platform.
The Toyota A-BAT hybrid truck, which offers improved fuel economy and lower emissions, comes with a distinctive un-truck-like profile that has already reminded a lot of observers of Chevrolet’s old El Caminos from the 1970s.
The A-BAT isn’t exactly an old-school-style truck. It is built on unibody like a car for improved handling and a smoother ride. It also features wireless Internet, a portable battery pack stowed in the center console and a solar panels on top of instrument panel which captures sunlight and converts it to energy used to charge up the navigation system.
The four-passenger A-BAT also features a relatively short, four-foot bed and a bed extender to handle the ubiquitous six-foot long sheet of plywood beyond the tailgate as well as a translucent roof panel, which slides open to allow for tall cargo inside the cab.
The A-BAT is an example of why other automakers fear Toyota.