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