Toyota says it is keenly aware of the growing popularity of large American pickup trucks in Australia, and as such is studying the viability of selling the new-generation Tundra revealed over the weekend.
It would give the Big T a rival to the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado that are re-engineered in right-hand drive (RHD) in Melbourne, and would accompany the new top-selling LandCruiser 300 and HiLux in showrooms.
However, at the risk of tempering enthusiasm, there are currently no firm and fixed plans for such a move. The challenge remains getting the US factory to make them in RHD configuration which, given how small our market is, has never been financially sensible.
A small number of Tundras are getting about on Aussie roads, imported and converted to RHD privately.
“Toyota Australia is aware that the large truck segment in Australia has grown in popularity over the last few years and it is a segment that we are continuing to study and that we are interested in generally,” a company spokesperson told us today.
“We have no announcements to make on the introduction of Tundra to Australia today and will continue to study its viability for the Australian market.”
The new Tundra is expected to ride on a TNGA frame architecture, just like the LandCruiser 300. This platform certainly allows RHD, it’s simply a matter of market demand versus the tooling cost.
Full-size US trucks are a prosperous business in Australia: General Motors Speciality Vehicles sells Chevy Silverados that are re-engineered to RHD by Walkinshaw in Melbourne, ditto Ateco which sells Ram 1500s.
Whether Toyota would seek to work with a local re-engineering partner or even go it alone remains to be seen, though the preference would be direct factory RHD supply.
Toyota’s social media team have dropped a picture of the upcoming new Tundra full-size ute ahead of its US market debut later this year. The photo seems to have been published in retort to some online leaks.
“Some people don’t know how to keep a secret,” said the Twitter post.
The Tundra’s first full-model-change in 14 years comes hot on the heels of the new LandCruiser 300 series revealed last week.
Naturally, Toyota has put its best foot forward by showing off the top-of-the-pile Tundra TRD Pro variant (see the bonnet decal), with blacked-out wheels and guards, Falken Wildpeak AT tyres, rock rails, and a menacing grille flanked by crisp LED headlights.
US reports talk about a twin-turbocharged V6 – presumably the 305kW and 650Nm 3.5-litre petrol that’ll be used in the LandCruiser 300 in some markets (Australia will launch as V6 diesel only though), mated to a 10-speed automatic.
The outgoing Tundra rocks a thirstier 5.7-litre V8.
Toyota last week teased the market with a picture of a new Tundra engine cover. The use of blue on the lettering seems very reminiscent of its hybrid marketing colour, and a petrol-electric Tundra is expected at some point to rival the hybrid Ford F-150.