2008 Toyota A-BAT Concept, Detroit Auto Show
While this sounds like the truck is a go for eventual production, a senior Toyota exec called the move typical of cost evaluations for a promising project but does not "imply a commitment to it yet." Toyota's president of sales in the United States, Jim Lentz, also claimed that no formal decision to move forward with A-BAT production has been made.
In a market that's been soft for truck sales, a wounded Toyota (who recently spent huge amounts on a complete redesign of its popular Tundra full-size pickup) seems smart to be investigating smaller, more efficient pickups along the lines of its concept A-BAT. The vehicle made its debut at Detroit's NAIAS this last January to rave reviews.
Industry sources like predict a car-based vehicle smaller than the mid-size Tacoma pickup, and possibly sharing components with the next-gen Toyota Prius and current Toyota Camry hybrid. Mark Levine, founder of PickupTrucks.com, claims that inquiries for both a four-cylinder and a hybrid model were sent to suppliers.
But Toyota is first and foremost a pragmatic company, and if development and production costs far outweigh profit possibilities or at least the money saved by raising its CAFE ratings, Toyota might well nix the project altogether.
Is a car-based pickup really a pickup? And how would you feel about purchasing hybrid trucks for daily duty? Tell us in a comment below.--Colin Mathews