Toyota’s A-BAT concept pickup will remain just that for the foreseeable future.
“We have a lot of top priorities right now, and A-BAT isn’t one of them,” Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Sales USA vice president and general manager, said at the New York auto show. “The market has changed dramatically over the last 12 months. We always keep reprioritizing – under good economic or recessionary times – what our planning is. [For now], it’s on the shelf.”
The Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck was an all-new take on Toyota’s original compact pickup truck roots in the U.S. The A-BAT featured a hybrid powertrain, unibody construction and a small footprint for maneuverability and weight savings. A cab-forward passenger compartment maximized rear cargo space in the A-BAT's compact packaging.
Last year, sources said the A-BAT had received a green light for production, and Automotive News reported that Toyota execs acknowledged supplier bids had gone out for A-BAT production.
Carter didn’t provide a specific reason why the A-BAT program had been paused, but it’s likely due to combined factors of dramatic decline in demand for new trucks since last year; still to be determined Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules for light trucks; production costs that may have been too high for a small pickup; and Toyota’s new focus on super small cars, like the Scion IQ concept that debuted in New York.
“Some concepts come to market quickly, other concepts don’t see the light of day,” Carter said. “One concept that came to market quickly was the FJ Cruiser. The response we received was so exceptional that we immediately went to the next step for production. That’s what we’re doing [at the N.Y. auto show]. We’re gauging response to what we think the potential volume might be for a micro or subcompact vehicle [like the Scion iQ].”
Carter said he’s still a fan of the A-BAT.
“I personally love the truck, it’s styling, that it’s a hybrid," he said. "To me, it had a real youthful feel to it. But there are no short-term announcements coming [about the A-BAT]."
Perhaps if Kia’s Soul’ster concept gets the nod we’ll see the A-BAT program start moving forward again.