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?
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