Our Point of View: More Than A Compact Truck?

February 21, 2008

by Toyota Open Road Blog

I’m guessing that many of you have only seen the small bit of the A-BAT, a concept vehicle we debuted at the North American International Automobile Show in Detroit in January. We also showed the vehicle at the Chicago Auto Show, and now that the excitement has died down a bit, we thought we’d describe it in a bit more detail and seek your opinions about it.

The A-BAT – or Advanced-Breakthrough Aerodynamic Truck – is a highly flexible four-passenger compact truck that uses a unitized body, instead of the separate cab, cargo bed and steel ladder frame more usually seen in trucks of all sizes.

The A-BAT’s flexibility goes far beyond its unitized construction, however. First of all, it’s designed to be at home on dirt roads, city streets and Interstate highways. And more important, its motive power is provided by Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive. That’s right, it’s a hybrid, so it’s got the low emissions and high fuel economy we all want.

In fully enclosed form, the A-BAT’s cargo bed is just 4 feet long – enough space for a whole lot of camping or sports gear. But dropping a midgate at the rear of the passenger cabin and folding out a bed extender provides the capacity required to haul that familiar benchmark of pickup-truck capacity, the 4 x 8 sheet of plywood. And a translucent roof panel slides open to allow for tall, bulky cargo in the cargo bed.

The bed has additional features that are further aimed at expanding the A-BAT’s usefulness. These include tailgate lighting for illuminating the load in the bed, a first-aid kit and flashlight integrated into the tailgate, sliding tie-downs and an AC power outlet. Storage for sports and leisure equipment is provided in the lockable drawers in the bed walls, and additional storage is accessible through sliding doors conveniently placed in and outside of the truck bed. And if that isn’t enough, even more storage capacity is found in a large sliding drawer beneath the bed, accessible without opening the tailgate.

Taking the concept of environmental efficiency a bit beyond the use of Hybrid Synergy Drive, the A-BAT has translucent solar panels in the top surface of its instrument panel. These capture sunlight and convert it into energy that helps power the retractable, portable navigation unit, portable power pack and backlit information displays found in the A-BAT’s interior.

That interior’s alloy center console houses a portable power pack that provides both AC and DC electrical power for powering tools, electrical gear while camping, a laptop computer, small appliances or assisting a vehicle jump-start.

So at a time when our pickups have gotten larger, what we have here is nothing less than the reinvention of the compact pickup. It’s cool looking, practical, useful, fun to drive and, best of all, it’s a hybrid.

The question that most frequently arises, of course, is this one: Is the A-BAT slated for production? Well, Toyota never comments on advance product. And that brings me to the most important part of this post. Using the comment area you’ll find below this post, tell us what you think of the A-BAT. Should we build it, or not? And if we do build it, what features should we keep, what features should we add, and what should we do differently?

We’re really interested in knowing what you think.
Originally published on the Toyota Open Road Blog on Feb. 21, 2008.

Displaying comments 1 - 5 of 13:

wendy said...
toyota will buy that vehicle back from him for up to 2 and a half times whar ut's worth look into it
11/8/10 at 12:00 AM

pwa said...
I own a 98 that was bought in Fremont,Ca dealer. I am the original owner. I may have to check into this. Were there many issues concerning this year or does it matter just bring into the dealer.
8/6/10 at 12:00 AM

name said...
Bring it into dealer for inspection.
7/2/10 at 12:00 AM

Charlie said...
Friend just took his 2000 Tacoma in for some work, AC did not work, funny noise in front end. $102K miles. Bought it on e-bay 5 years ago for $8K or so. Toyota bought his truck back due to frame condition, paid 1 1/2 times retail blue book (excellent condition). He got $13.7K! No committment to rebuy toyota or anything. They wanted the truck immediately, gave him a loaner at no charge to drive home. Strange but true. I think I'll look for some old toyota trucks and take them in for service!
4/12/10 at 12:00 AM

Mike in California said...
My 18 year old son just purchased 1995 tacoma. Rust on frame was so severe dealer actually put in writing that he could bring back within 7 days if not satisfied. What are guidelines for Toyota to replace or refund? Looks horrible and worse horribly unsafe. I do not want him to find out that rust was a problem even though dealer might say it's fine. Any suggestions please? Thanks Mike
3/13/10 at 12:00 AM

diane said...
We are also going thru this process. How long did they state before you received your truck back and are they replacing the shield covering the gas tank. Thanks
2/24/10 at 12:00 AM

Sabrina said...
I bought my Tacoma in La. in '96. I moved to Canada in '99. I never received a letter in ref to the rust situation, and just took it into a Toyota dealership for a service, and due to frame rust, they kept the truck, put me in a rental, and submitted a claim to Toyota. My question is...Will this buyback still be honored?
2/17/10 at 12:00 AM

Have you had any reports of frame perforations on the Tercel's? I replaced the gas tank on my 95 and I noticed a fairly large hole between the rear axel and back bumper in the frame rail on the bottom of the frame (unibody).
1/22/10 at 12:00 AM

Daryl Knapp said...
I have a 2001 tacoma I purchased in Nov. of 2000. Today I took my taco to a dealer and hade them inspec t the frame after my cab mound rusted completely off the frame..They are standing by it and replacing the frame and anything damaged in the process of repair along with giving me a rental car for free for the term of the work..Thank you and! rust or no rust Toyota forever...97k and 1 set of brakes...no engine work..I love it!
10/8/09 at 12:00 AM

ej at Toyota said...
Sorry, Canada does not honor U.S. programs. If you have further questions, please contact the Toyota Customer Service line at (800) 331-4331 or www.toyota.com/help/contactus/html.
5/27/09 at 12:00 AM

Shannon said...
I own a 98 Tacoma, and would like to find out if my vehicle qualifies. Should I just bring it into a Toyota dealer. I live in Canada but own a U.S. built truck, is that a problem?
5/11/09 at 12:00 AM

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