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The challenge facing Toyota’s Australian V8 pick-up plans

By Cameron Kirby, 30 Mar 2020 News

The challenges stopping Toyota’s V8 pick-up from arriving in Australia

Toyota Australia wants to sell it, Australians want to buy it, but there are significant obstacles standing in the way

  • New Tundra to be revealed next year

  • TNGA-F platform opens up possibility of right-hand drive production       

  • Global business case needed for Australian sales to be approved


Toyota is building a new V8-powered pick-up, which will be revealed to the world next year.

Leaked documents show that an all-new Tundra is due to be revealed in 2021, built atop a fresh TNGA-F platform that will be shared with other large pick-ups and SUVs.

This is good news for Australians, who have been baying for more large American-style pick-ups since the introduction of the Ram 1500 and Silverado 1500 locally – converted to right-hand drive in Australia by Walkinshaw.

Read next: Could Australia be getting a 522kW ute?

Currently, the Tundra is powered by a 5.7-litre aluminium 32-valve petrol V8 good for 280kW and 544Nm. It is unclear if this engine will be retained for the all-new model, with rumours suggesting a twin-turbo V6 could be slotted under the bonnet.

Toyota has not confirmed that it is considering a twin-turbo V6 instead of a V8, or whether it may offer one alongside a V8.

A new platform gives hope that the Tundra, which until now has been a left-hand drive proposition only, could be built with international markets in mind, opening the door for possible Aussie sales.

Read more: Toyota's 2021/22 plans leaked

However, while customers have made it clear there is an appetite for this kind of model – and Toyota Australia has signalled its interest in having the Tundra as part of its local line-up – there are some significant roadblocks that could prevent the big pick-up being sold in Australia.

The first is actually getting right-hand drive production across the line. While a new platform might make this a possibility, the business case needs to stack up on a global scale.

Sales numbers of the Ram 1500 are the best guide for how a Tundra would perform in Australia, with the Ateco-imported models becoming the industry’s success story last year. In 2019 roughly 3000 of the large V8-powered pick-ups found homes down under.

Read next: Is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 all the pick-up you need?

While that is indeed a positive number in Australia, it pales in comparison to the 100,000-plus yearly sales figures enjoyed in the United States alone, and may not be enough to justify the development costs of right-hand-drive production.

For Toyota Australia, failing to secure right-hand-drive production would shape as a dealbreaker for getting the Tundra into Australia.

Vehicles like the Ram 1500 and Silverado 1500 are built in left-hand drive before being shipped to Australia and converted to right-hook. However, Toyota Australia said this kind of arrangement isn’t something it is investigating.

“[Right-hand drive production] is the first part of the equation that would probably need to be resolved,” a Toyota Australia spokesperson told Wheels.

“If right-hand drive factory vehicles become available then it is something that we would very deeply study. Toyota Australia would be jumping up and down almost more than anyone else to bring that car here.

“The big thing is that it needs a global business case to be put together, and the business case needs to be there for right-hand drive production from the factory.”

Another challenge facing the Tundra’s possible introduction to Australia is the prospect of emissions regulations.

“We are aware that a big V8 truck is something that we would need to study beyond just the market point of view – we need to look at what the potential future might be for CO2 limits, and some sort of corporate average fuel economy or CO2 for fleet,” the spokesperson added.

“We understand that it is a vehicle that is of high interest to Aussie consumers, and if we can pull the business case together to bring that vehicle here, it is a very highly likely proposition.

“It is quite expensive to convert vehicles locally. If we were to bring over a left-hand drive and covert it … you’ve seen the [cost] difference it makes to something like a Camaro, for example.

“Trying to convert a Tundra, you can only imagine how much the final cost might end up being if we decided to do something.”

Toyota Australia says no third party has approached it to pitch local conversions. Toyota in North America is taking the lead on the new Tundra’s development, and any right-hand drive production decision remains out of the Australian division’s hands.

“They are aware [of our eagerness],” the spokesperson said. “There have been discussions in the past, but it hasn’t obviously manifested itself in right-hand drive production for now.”