The mighty Toyota Tundra V8 pick-up from the US is unlikely to make it to Australia with this generation’s model – or the next – even though the company refuses to formally rule it out.
Toyota says the business case to manufacture the Tundra in right-hand drive on its US production line does not make financial sense because it couldn’t sell enough vehicles to make the engineering changes worthwhile.
Toyota Australia also says it is not exploring the option of appointing a third party to convert the vehicle to right-hand-drive locally, as is the case with the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado pick-ups converted by Walkinshaw Automotive Group, the parent company of Holden Special Vehicles.
When asked once again about the chances of the Toyota Tundra going on sale in Australia, the company’s vice president, sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, said this week: “We are on record as saying we study that market (but) it’s an ongoing study.”
“Right now we don’t have any plans to bring that vehicle to market, but we certainly continue to study it and study other opportunities,” said Mr Hanley.
When asked again about the possibility of a local conversion, Mr Hanley said: “We certainly don’t have any plans for that right now. If we went down that path we would certainly have to get (Toyota Japan) endorsement (but) we haven’t gone down that path and have no plans to.”
Mr Hanley added he was “not aware of any other operations of that nature” anywhere else in the Toyota world that converted vehicles from left- to right-hand-drive on behalf of the Japanese giant.
Aside from joint venture programs such as the Toyota Supra/BMW Z4 and Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ, Toyota does not allow outside companies to do the final work on any of its showroom-ready vehicles.
Over the past five years, Toyota has sold between 115,000 and 119,000 Tundra pick-ups in North America annually, which is enough to support left-hand drive production in the US.
In Australia, Toyota would likely sell between 5000 and 10,000 Tundra pick-ups which, at the moment, is not enough to justify the millions of dollars in investment required to develop a right-hand drive model.
By comparison, Ford sells approximately 900,000 F-Series annually, General Motors sells approximately 800,000 pick-ups across the Chevrolet (585,000) and GMC (220,000) brands, while Ram sells approximately 500,000 pick-ups annually.