Toyota is seriously looking into introducing its massive Tundra pickup to Australia, giving the country’s best-selling brand a bigger brother to the popular HiLux ute.
The Japanese giant will work with the Walkinshaw Automotive Group to convert test examples of the massive Tundra to right-hand drive as part of an initial evaluation before the ute is approved for sale at dealerships.
Testing of prototypes on public roads will begin next month, while 300 test vehicles will be deployed in Australia from the fourth quarter of next year as part of a final stage of validation.
The new machine will give Toyota a rival to increasingly popular full-size trucks like the RAM 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado, as well as the Ford F-150 due to go on sale next year.
Toyota and Walkinshaw will pull parts from the latest LandCruiser 300 series to convert the Tundra into a right-hand drive version.
The Walkinshaw group is already involved in the conversion of the RAM and Silverado models in Melbourne.
The comprehensive conversion process adds a significant cost to the US purchase price of vehicles like the Tundra, which is almost guaranteed to be priced in the six figures.
Australian examples of the Tundra will be powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre petrol V6 similar to that found in the LandCruiser, albeit with the inclusion of a hybrid system not currently offered on the all-wheel drive flagship. all four wheels.
Toyota Australia Vice President Sean Hanley said the model had not been closed for public sale as the project had to meet internal quality standards before being given the green light.
“This is a dedicated reengineering program, led by Toyota Australia and made possible by our global partners and supported by our parent company and Toyota North America. It will utilize OE (original equipment) levels of design, development, testing and components based on Toyota’s deep commitment to quality, durability and reliability,” said Mr. Hanley.
“This project shows how serious we at Toyota are about quality, and a right-hand drive Tundra will not be available for sale in Australia until we are fully satisfied.
“We are truly excited to bring such an important project to this stage and look forward to seeing development prototypes on our roads and test tracks in the coming weeks and months.”
Given the testing involved, a model isn’t expected to hit local showrooms until 2024.