The next generation Toyota Tundra is due on sale late next year, but the full-size pick-up is still no closer to coming to Australia.
Toyota Australia has said for years it would love to introduce the Tundra to sit above the HiLux in its ute line-up, but the cost of engineering a right-hand-drive model for relatively low sales here has so far been deemed unviable.
Toyota manufactures about 110,000 to 120,000 Tundra pick-ups in the US each year (compared to 900,000 Ford F Series, 600,000 Ram Trucks, 575,000 Chevrolets), versus about 500,000 HiLuxes across three factories globally, of which Australia takes about 50,000 examples.
However, although interest is growing, the market for full-size US pick-ups in Australia is still relatively small.
The closest rival to the Toyota Tundra locally is the Ram 1500, of which about 3000 were sold here last year.
CarAdvice understands Toyota cannot make a viable business case to develop a right-hand-drive version of the new generation Tundra on such small sales volumes.
Toyota Australia has so far ruled out a local re-engineering and conversion process, such as the Ram and Chevrolet pick-ups assembled under the same roof by the Walkinshaw Automotive Group (pictured below), the parent company of Holden Special Vehicles.
When CarAdvice interviewed the sales and marketing boss of Toyota Australia last December about the chances of the Tundra coming Down Under, Sean Hanley said: “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.”
CarAdvice understands Toyota would need to commit to selling at least 10,000 Tundra pick-ups a year before such a project would be considered viable.
Another road block: the Tundra is currently only available with a petrol V8 in the US, not diesel which is the preferred choice in Australia's commercial market.
However, if the Toyota Tundra were to adopt V6 petrol hybrid power, that could make the program more viable as it's only a matter of a right-hand-drive conversion, rather than a new engine and a right-hand-drive conversion. The question: will Australian buyers still want a Tundra if it doesn’t have a V8?