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Toyota re-evaluates Tundra pick-up for Australia

Maybe, baby: The Tundra could be officially imported to Australia if a right-hand-drive model with a diesel powertrain became available in the future.

Tundra full-size pick-up remains on Toyota Australia radar – but not right now

Toyota logo19 Apr 2018

By JUSTIN HILLIARD

TOYOTA Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA) has reaffirmed that the Tundra full-size pick-up will not be sold locally during its current generation but revealed it is likely to be considered again in the future, after an engineering mule was recently seen testing in Victoria.

Spotted by GoAuto near TMCA’s Port Melbourne headquarters, the left-hand-drive Tundra evaluation vehicle appeared to signal the company’s ongoing interest in the LCV, which would complement the best-selling HiLux mid-sizer in its model line-up.

Speaking to GoAuto at the HiLux national media launch in South Australia this week, TMCA vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley explained that vehicle evaluation was routine for the local operation.

“We’re always looking at available products around the globe under the Toyota brand,” he said. “We have no firm plans at all – no plans, actually – for Tundra to come to this market, but we’re always studying opportunities. This is part of a normal product review cycle that we go through.

“Tundra is a car that has a lot of interest in Australia, and, of course, our dealers are always asking us to have a look. So, these kind of examinations of cars, and looking at different markets and what’s available, that’s not uncommon for us.

“Tundra’s been around for quite a long time in the US. It’s been something that we’ve examined for a long, long time, so it’s kind of not new to us. We always examine the market trends, opportunities, business cases.”

Now in its second generation, the US-built Tundra competes with the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500, among others, in the North American market where it is available in three body styles – Regular Cab, Double Cab and CrewMax – with either a 4.6-litre or 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine.

Queensland-based right-hand-drive conversion specialist Performax International currently sells the Tundra in its Platinum, 1794 Edition and TRD Pro grades, with pricing for current stock in excess of $129,000.

The Tundra’s main appeal is its braked towing capacity, which ranges from 3991kg to 4173kg in Performax International examples, while their payload is between 694kg and 707kg.

According to TMCA product planning and development general manager Rod Ferguson, these two points strongly appeal to local buyers, which is why the Tundra remains on the radar.

“We recognise what it offers and the features, being left-hand drive makes it difficult to drive a business case for it. But, the towing capacity is the big thing that customers ask for in Australia, so we always look at that sort of product,” he said.

The Tundra’s business case is also hurt by its lack of a diesel option, which is a priority for TMCA after it dropped petrol HiLux variants in September last year due to slowing sales.

However, if a diesel powertrain and right-hand drive were offered in the third-generation model, TMCA is expected to put its hand up high for supply.

As previously reported, the Tundra has been considered by TMCA since 2003, with its dealer network understood to be particularly passionate about it with some dealers own examples themselves.

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