Koyari said that rumours of the old workhorse’s demise were greatly exaggerated, and admitted he was dismayed that many stories suggested an axing was on the table, in the face of more stringent modern safety and emissions standards.
Toyota said this week that no matter the hurdle in updating the 70 Series, ending this niche model’s production was “never an option”. Rather, the dinosaur had to keep evolving in the face of a looming regulatory comet.
Speaking at the launch of the updated Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series range this week, Koyari said the company had invested significant resources in making the 31-year old design capable of meeting safety and emissions requirements, unlike the Land Rover Defender or Nissan Patrol Y61.
“So many times I wanted our public relations guys to tell you what we were doing,” Koyari said. “Especially when I saw an article suggesting the 70 Series would stop.”
The development of the program took five years and was based in Australia, which now takes 10 per cent of the global total of 75,000 units produced a year, and where 260,000 units have been sold to farmers, mining companies and government departments since 1985.
This development included 100,000km of torture testing all over the continent, and a number of meetings between regional buyers and senior Toyota global management.
The new models all sport stability control, hill-start assist, cruise control and traction control, plus new injectors to improve economy and get CO2 emissions down to Euro 5 standards that apply to commercials for the foreseeable future here. The top-selling two-door ute also now gets five airbags and a five-star ANCAP rating to meet modern fleet demands.
Koyari-san admitted that many rusted-on buyers were concerned that new electronic safety equipment would somehow water down the truck’s credentials — despite the new one sporting an even tougher frame than before.
“Many 70 Series LandCruiser owners ask me ‘why have you made so many changes to this vehicle?’,” he said.
“I was a bit surprised at this question, so I asked them why they felt so. They told me that they love their LandCruiser, some of them have owned one for more than 20 years, and they don’t understand why Toyota is adding all this new gear.
“They say that curtain airbags for example will not make the LandCruiser a better workhorse.
“Of course. But I tell them that an employer has a duty of care for their workers, we have to meet changing regulations, with ESC, airbags and other features. I also tell them that active traction control really does make it a better workhorse.”
You’ll note that only the two-door gets side airbags and a driver’s knee-bag. Toyota’s R&D allocation only covered this top-seller because the scale for the other body styles — Troop Carrier, five-door cab-chassis and five-door wagon — didn’t stack up.
This is supposedly because most of the global allocation goes to the Middle East and Africa where updates to emissions and safety were less crucial to the model’s continuance. Still, we have kicked Toyota in our review, which you can read here.