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Toyota goes into BAT

Pick-up lines: Toyota's A-BAT concept vehicle.

Ute concept as well as a surprise production SUV to be revealed in Detroit

Toyota logo2 Jan 2008

By DAVID HASSALL

TOYOTA will unveil a new concept vehicle at the forthcoming Detroit motor show that provides a glimpse of what the company’s next-generation compact pick-up might look like.

Called the A-BAT, the new ute is clearly designed for the US market and is designed along the lines of the somewhat controversial Honda Ridgeline pick-up.

Typical of concept cars these days, the A-BAT throws some environmental credentials into the motor show spotlight by having a hybrid powertrain – a four-cylinder engine combined with electric drive like the Prius – but you can be sure that a production version will offer plenty of petrol-only horsepower.

Toyota is pitching the A-BAT as an urban runabout that can carry plenty of stuff home from the hardware store, including 4x8 sheets of wood (though only with the tailgate down and no back seat passengers).

It was designed at Toyota’s Newport Beach, California design centre and developed in conjunction with the company’s US advanced product group.

“Driving from the suburbs to the city is a way of life for many people,” said Calty Design Research Inc president Kevin Hunter of the A-BAT (which stands for Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck).

“We’ve taken Toyota’s truck heritage to a different level by envisioning a vehicle capable of manoeuvring the suburbs as well as dirt roads.

“This compact truck is as comfortable for long commutes as it is for road trips. It can accommodate outdoor toys and home-improvement supplies – plus, customers benefit from the hybrid powertrain’s low emissions and fuel economy.”

8 center imageLeft: Toyota's 2005 FT-SX concept
Toyota will also surprisingly reveal a new crossover SUV/sedan called the Venza at a Detroit show media preview on January 14.

The company said that the Toyota Venza will be “a unique blend of sedan and sport utility vehicle, offering seating for five, east ingress and egress, a car-like ride and functional utility”.

It was designed and engineered in the US and will go into production at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant, where the Camry and Avalon are currently produced.

Although there is little information about the Venza, it is expected to be built on the Camry platform and go into production within a year.

It is likely to bear some resemblance to the FT-SX concept vehicle shown at the 2005 Detroit show, meaning it will be a more coupe-like SUV than the similar-sized Kluger.

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