There is “enormous demand” for the Toyota Tundra full-size pickup in Australia, says the company’s local arm, but it’s not feasible to factory-import it here in its current generation.
Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing Tony Cramb said at this week’s world debut of the all-new HiLux in Sydney that there was room in our market for an even bigger load-lugger.
But the fact the current Tundra is manufactured in North America, for North America, rules it out. There is neither the option of right-hand-drive or a diesel engine — just 230kW 4.6-litre and 284kW 5.7-litre V8s.
The company says it has explored the option of right-hand-drive in the past. According to Cramb, talk of bringing the Tundra nameplate here has echoed around the halls of Toyota HQ since at least 2003.
“We have an enormous demand for a Tundra here in Australia, there’s no doubt if we could get a diesel Tundra, then I think we’d sell 100 a month,” he said.
“But regrettably because it’s manufactured in the States, it’s unlikely to happen that way.
“… We’ve had strong requests at dealer meetings to get the Tundra here, and we have made representation. But when it comes down to it, because it’s not LHD here, and because it’s petrol, in the end it’s very hard to make the case.”
Given Toyota has close to 300 dealers locally, and dominates commercial sales here, you can see where the company is coming from.
Nevertheless, buyers after a Tundra can purchase an RHD converted version from Queensland’s Performax International, for around $120,000. A factory version imported by Toyota Australia would be cheaper given the scale it would leverage.
A factory-backed Tundra would give Toyota a rival for the forthcoming RAM 2500 and 3500 models that will be officially imported by Fiat Chrysler’s New Zealand distributor and converted to RHD with factory backing from about September this year.
Toyota’s Japanese rival Nissan ruled out importing its Cummins Diesel-powered Titan pickup to Australia recently, with managing director Richard Emery telling us he considered the segment an “oddity”.
Likewise, the Ford F-150 we reviewed last week won’t come here, given it remains LHD-only. The company enjoyed some success from a superseded version of the F-Series here in the early 2000s, showing there was some demand for heavy duty utes from serious haulers.