The full-size truck segment continues to be dominated by Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors, but Toyota isn’t retreating as the company has announced plans to invest $391 (£313 / €353) million into its San Antonio truck plant.
Toyota was coy on what the money will be used for, but confirmed the investment is “in response to strong customer demand and will make the plant even more competitive in the long-term … while remaining flexible with multi-vehicle production capabilities by introducing various advanced manufacturing technologies.”
That’s pretty vague, but it’s not hard to connect the dots as the plant currently builds the Tundra and Tacoma. Back in February, Toyota’s North American Group Vice President and General Manager, Jack Hollis, announced a new Tundra was coming “soon” and reports have suggested it will be introduced next year as a 2021 model.
The redesigned truck is expected to be built at the upgraded San Antonio plant and reports have suggested it will ride on an all-new architecture internally known as F1. The platform has been designed with flexibility in mind and it will reportedly underpin of all of Toyota’s future pickups including the next-generation Tacoma. The two models are also slated to have greater component sharing potential and this should help to reduce costs.
Toyota hasn’t said much about the Tundra, but rumors have suggested it could be offered with a hybrid powertrain that consist of a turbo or twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 engine as well as an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The powertrain could be loosely related to the one used in the Lexus LS 500h and will reportedly enable the model to have around 450 hp (336 kW / 456 PS) and 500 lb-ft (677 Nm) of torque. That’s Ford F-150 Raptor territory and the truck could also have a fuel economy rating in excess of 30 mpg.
The rumor should be taken with a grain of salt, but Toyota is undoubtedly aware that the next-generation Tundra will be facing some stiff competition as it will have to battle the recently redesigned Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and Ram 1500. If that wasn’t enough of an uphill battle, Nissan is putting the finishing touches on a facelifted Titan and Ford is working on a redesigned F-150.