SAccording to Pickuptrucks.com, Toyota has given the go-ahead on a production version of the radical Toyota A-BAT concept first revealed at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. The compact, unibody pickup would be equipped with an expandable four foot cargo box and hybrid synergy drive while fitting into the footprint of the RAV4. The A-BAT would be one of only a few members of the compact segment (along with the Ford Ranger, which we still are told is on the outs, and the Pontiac G8 ST), as the rest of the competition has moved into the midsize range without saying so. Further making the point that the big truck market is on the skids, rumor has it the Toyota Tundra Diesel boss "Ken" Watenabe promised we'd eventually be seeing now has the status of indefinite delay.
But what should anyone expect? Tundra sales are in the doghouse and with diesel prices sky high, Toyota doesn't foresee a return on investment for an oil-burning engine. Although we're told the A-BAT plans could get the axe if production prices come back too high, the idea along with the Tundra anti-plans come together to form a pretty clear picture: Trucks are going to shrink, at least from Toyota. No surprise to us as the current crop of pickups, while very capable, are also gigantic and thirsty. All we ask of Toyota in this new small truck is that they avoid building the beds from pre-rusted steel, as it would go a long way to keeping our highways cleaner in this second malaise era. [Pickuptrucks.com]