Future Models - Toyota 2014 HiLux
Next Toyota HiLux to get Aussie touch
Local input: Toyota Australia engineers from the Melbourne-based Technical Centre will head the Asia Pacific region's chassis tuning on the next-gen HiLux.
Toyota Australia engineers to lead chassis tuning for next-generation HiLux
7 September 2011
TOYOTA Australia will have a bigger say in the development of the next-generation Toyota HiLux light truck due in about 2014, with local engineers being nominated to head the chassis tuning for the Asia-Pacific region.
The input from the Melbourne-based Toyota Technical Centre will ensure that advanced safety features such as electronic stability control (ESC) will be a certainty across range next time around, helping the top-selling Toyota match new arrivals on the market such as the all-new Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50 and Volkswagen Amarok.
The Japanese chief engineer for the eighth-generation HiLux recently visited Australia on a fact-finding mission, touring remote mines, farms and other places where HiLux has been a favourite in the harshest conditions for more than 40 years.
Said Toyota Australia senior executive director of sales and marketing David Buttner: “We took him all over the place and showed him as much as we could about HiLux in this market.”
Australia is one of Toyota’s most successful hunting grounds for HiLux, consuming about 10 per cent of global production in 2010, and about 700,000 units in total since the first generation was launched 43 years ago.
This success has been a major factor in driving Toyota to number one among automotive brands in this country – a fact not lost on head office planners in Nagoya.
Left: Toyota Australia corporate manager, product planning division Greg Gardner.
This year, HiLux is Toyota’s biggest-selling model in Australia, topping the sales charts outright in Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory.
The next vehicle is in the early stages of development, with the current model destined to hold the fort at least three more years.
Launched in 2005, the existing model has just been given a mid-life facelift, with fresh face, revised model line-up that includes seven more diesel variants and improved value.
But with all-new rivals on the launch pad from Ford, Mazda, Holden and Isuzu and a rising threat from a raft of Chinese manufacturers, including Great Wall, Foton and ZX Auto, Toyota dealers will be looking forward to a total make-over of the HiLux to re-set the benchmark in Toyota’s favour, as the current model did six years ago.
Toyota Australia’s bid to have more input in the development of the next model would have been done no harm by the local input into the new-generation Yaris, with Toyota Australia engineers spending up to 18 months working alongside their head office counterparts in Japan to fine-tune the new model that is due to arrive Down Under in the final quarter of this year.
Toyota Australia corporate manager, product planning division Greg Gardner told GoAuto at this week’s launch of the facelifted HiLux that Aussie input into Yaris had paid big dividends, with the Australian engineers heading off issues that could have ended up affecting sales here.
He said one of the changes concerned the new electric power-assisted steering, with the Australian engineers coming down in favour of European steering box for the Australian model instead of a Japanese unit.
The issue was picked up in testing at the Japanese proving ground, and solved relatively easily at that early stage by upgrading to the European version for just $80 a unit.
Mr Gardner revealed that the Toyota Technical Centre, in suburban Notting Hill in Melbourne’s east, had been nominated to head up the chassis tuning for next-gen HiLux utes destined for the Asia-Pacific region – a first in HiLux development.
This role is expected to include ride and handling tuning, along with the integration of ESC and other new-age chassis aids across all models for the first time in HiLux.
Currently, ESC has been developed only for models with the largest, 17-inch wheels, meaning the flagship SR5 and mid-range SR Double Cab variants fitted with an optional $1500 safety pack.
Clearly, Toyota Australia executives would prefer to have ESC available across the range, and they made it clear this week that they would be pushing for it in the next generation – a position they will now be more easily able to influence with the input of Toyota technical Centre.
Although he would not comment directly in the future of HiLux, Mr Buttner said: “We are totally committed to improving the active and passive safety of every vehicle we bring to market.”
The facelifted HiLux, which was given its media launch in Townsville this week, gets some suspension revisions, mainly focusing on noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) improvements via new bushes, rather than ride and handling enhancement.
However, Mr Gardner said the 4x2 HiLux shock absorbers had been revised to achieve a flatter, more stable and more comfortable ride, especially over rough roads.
Another area that Australia will be hoping to influence is towing capacity. Although 4x4 HiLuxs now have a 2500kg braked towing capacity, this still falls short of the 3000kg offered by a couple of rivals.