Despite the fact that American automakers dominate the full-size truck market, both Nissan and Toyota have made a go at earning a slice of that pie. The Nissan Frontier has upped the ante with a 5.0 liter Cummins V8 turbodiesel available starting next year, which has Toyota pondering either a diesel or hybrid option for its own full-size pickup. I say do both.
Toyota has been toying with the idea of either a diesel or hybrid option for the Tundra for some time now, even going so far as to sign a technology deal with Ford. But that alliance fell apart, which seemed to end hopes for a hybrid pickup anytime soon. In an interview with Edmunds though, Toyota’s Rick LoFaso said that the Japanese automaker is evauluating both diesel and hybrid technology for the Tundra. The diesel idea has been around an especially long time, with a diesel dually concept (above) breaking cover in 2008.
While the Cummins name would bring instant name recognition to the Tundra trucks, with Nissan and all of the Big Three also offering diesel options, it just looks like Toyota is playing follow the leader. But a diesel-hybrid option? That would be something that would really put the Tundra on an entirely different playing field. As it stands, the Tundra with the V6 gets 16/20 mpg, while the bigger V8 is rated at just 13/18, leaving lots of room for improvement.
The awesome torque capabilities of electric motors and diesel engines, combined with the potentially incredible fuel economy, would make the Tundra the talk of the town. It would also dispel the reservations some people might have of a pure hybrid pickup. That all said, I won’t hold my breath; while Toyota is playing fast and loose with performance hybrid technology, the cars they are actually selling seem to be losing some of their luster. Even the news that the next Toyota Prius could get up to 55 mpg doesn’t shake the feeling that Toyota is starting to fall behind the innovation curve.
A diesel-electric Toyota Tundra would be a big step in the right direction though.