2008 Toyota A-Bat ConceptEnlarge Photo
Toyota’s presence at the Detroit auto shows past has trumpeted its big, big, big trucks and SUVs, from the new Tundra to the Sequoia. But this year coming, with fuel-economy rules changing, Toyota is staking out some greener territory with a concept pickup truck derived — like Honda’s Ridgeline — from passenger-car running gear.
The A-Bat concept, Toyota says, returns the company to its compact truck roots. Penned at the company’s southern California design center, CALTY, the A-Bat sits on a unibody architecture and uses a version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system for “excellent fuel economy,” Toyota says.
The A-Bat is smaller than Toyota’s mid-size Tacoma pickup, which is based on a traditional ladder frame. Toyota says the smaller dimensions and car-based running gear would give a production version of the A-Bat more car-like handling and a smooth ride. The concept sits on 19-inch wheels for a dash of truck tougness.
The most important feature, the truck bed, is a four-foot affair with a flexible pass-through that adds another two feet to the bed. The putative 4x8 sheet of plywood will fit in the A-Bat, and taller cargo can ride in the cabin, poking through a sliding panel. The bed also includes formed-in lighting, a first aid kit and flashlights, as well as an AC power outlet. The bed panels slide around to expose more storage areas, and the bed floor also slides to expose a storage drawer, like Honda’s Ridgeline has its storage locker below the bed.
The A-Bat’s cockpit is more unconventional than, say, a Dodge Ram Mega Cab. A center console incorporates an AC/DC portable power pack that can be used to run tools, computer or even give a jump start. Carbon-fiber-look trim is teamed with rim on the doors and instrument panel than can be personalized. And the four-seat cabin offers flexible seats that fold down for bed space, or retract beneath the cargo bed entirely.
High-tech features in the concept include a portable navigation system, wireless internet, a music hard drive, and solar panels on the roof that capture energy and use it to charge the navigation system and power pack.
Overall Length: 181.3
Overall Width: 74.4
Overall Height: 64.0
Bed Length: 48.0
Bed Length with Midgate down: 72.0
Bed Length with Midgate and Tailgate down: 96.0
Wheel Size: 19-inch