The pickup truck segment has seen a tremendous amount of growth and innovation over the past several decades. Once reserved for being function focused beasts of burden, the pickup has transformed into a very versatile tool with performance, off-road, and other types of pickups entering the marketplace. This includes the electric pickup, with GM, Tesla, Ford, and a swarm of others all fighting for attention. But Toyota (a pioneer in creating the modern hybrid vehicle) has been noticeably absent from the discussion. That is now changing, with the company releasing an all new statement about the viability of EV pickups.
The purported statement was said by Sheldon Brown, Toyota’s Chief Truck Engineer during an interview with CarBuzz. Brown is confident that the next generation Tundra will be a very compelling offering thanks in part to electrification, and claimed that the future is bright for the rest of Toyota’s truck offerings. While Brown stopped far short of confirming if a Toyota Tundra EV is indeed coming to the marketplace or not, it does show that Toyota is taking a very forward thinking approach to the EV pickup segment. Brown claims that truck customers heavily consider the amount of low-end torque and response that the engine provides when making a truck purchase. This presents a very good opportunity for the Japanese automaker to try and take full advantage of the hybrid technologies that it has at its disposal to try and bring some of these traits to a green truck offering.
Granted a hybrid Tundra would be a far different offering than a Prius, with maximum efficiency not being the primary goal here. Instead, a more compelling glimpse into what an electrified Tundra could bring to the table can be seen when one looks at two other products in Toyota’s model family. First up is the hybrid RAV4 Prime which can make the sprint to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, and brings 302 combined horsepower to the party. The second is the upcoming Lexus IS which is rumored to be receiving a twin-turbocharged V6 in its flagship model. Toyota and Lexus have recently confirmed that V8 production will eventually be coming to an end, so that could mean that the twin-turbocharged V6 will perhaps be used much more extensively in the lineups for both brands.
So where does that leave the next generation Tundra? Well for starters, a hybrid Tundra would certainly be a very radical departure for the model which is one of the last stalwarts left to not offer an engine smaller than a V8 for customers to choose from. The V8 in the truck is also based on an aging design, and as a result lacks the efficiency seen in some of its rivals. A smaller twin-turbo V6 would not only allow the Tundra to be on par with its peers, but the newer engine would be able to accommodate new versions of the firm’s hybrid technology which would certainly raise its green score up considerably.