Toyota has hinted at the possible introduction of a smaller bakkie below the Hilux, as a means of capitalising on the segment’s resurgence, predominantly in North America.
With the confirmation last year that the next generation Tacoma will be aligned closer to the Hilux, the automaker has admitted that space exists below the former for a rival aimed at the Hyundai Santa Cruz, Ford Maverick, Honda Ridgeline, and Ram’s off-again, on-again Dakota successor.
“Today, we have the market really well covered with Tacoma, but [a compact pickup] could be a possibility and something we continue to look at,” Toyota’s Executive President for North America, Bob Carter, told MotorTrend this past week.
In the same interview, Toyota Group North America Vice-President of Product Planning and Strategy, Cooper Ericksen, said demand would dictate whether the green light is given for a sub-Hilux/Tacoma.
“If there’s a customer that needs a rugged, smaller body-on-frame vehicle, we can consider that, but if it’s more for urban use and less extreme off-road, then it would make more sense to use the TNGA unibody platform,” he said.
If approved, and in-line with Ericksen’s comments, the newcomer would make use of the TNGA-K platform used by the RAV4, Lexus NX, Harrier/Venza and Lexus RX, rather than the body-on-frame TNGA-F that underpins the Land Cruiser 300/Lexus LX, Tundra, Sequoia and very soon, the Hilux/Tacoma, next generation Fortuner as well as the incoming new Land Cruiser Prado.
In a related discussion on the matter with Automotive News, Ericksen stated, “Tacoma has been amazingly successful … [but] we’ve reached a point where we can’t get bigger, frankly, because of ‘garageability’ — the ability to fit it in the garage, and that’s a huge selling point”.
With rumours alleging the Tacoma making its world debut next year, followed soon after by the Hilux, Carter hinted that a decision would only be taken 12 months from now with the likely possibility of unveiling the newcomer, if confirmed, in 2024 or 2025.
The introduction of a bakkie along the lines of the Maverick will officially plug the gap left vacant by the original Tacoma that replaced the Americanised Hilux, known simply as the Toyota Pick-Up, in 1995 as Toyota’s smallest bakkie.
Since 2004 with the introduction of the second generation, the Tacoma obtained what Americans called “mid-size pick-ups” instead of the lower down “compact”, the former being roughly similar to what South Africans would consider a traditional one-ton bakkie.
For now, little else is known, but expect details to become clearer over the next few years.