Toyota Australia is open to bringing the US-built Tundra pick-up down under to sit above its best-selling HiLux.

While stressing there were no firm plans at present, Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, revealed the company is studying the growing full-size ute market closely.

Since the HiLux became the top-selling vehicle in Australia, ute sales have continued to climb, as has the price and size.

Toyota’s most expensive HiLux variants are the $61,690 Rogue and Rugged X models, while Ford’s priciest Ranger is the $74,990 Raptor. Then there’s the Tundra’s American rivals, the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado, which are now on sale in Australia thanks to local conversions by American Special Vehicles and HSV, respectively. The Ram 1500 Laramie is priced from $99,950 while the Silverado 2500 starts at $114,990.

Hanley told Drive that Toyota has been watching the market expansion closely.

“Tough trucks in pick-ups is real,” Hanley said at the launch of the new RAV4 in the US.

“I think there is, and we watch this carefully, a growing market desire for that type of vehicle. So we never rule it out, but we don’t have any plans to announce tonight. It’s something we continue to look at, continue to monitor [and] would never rule it out.”

Currently the Tundra is not made in right-hand drive but Hanley said there is nothing stopping Toyota Australia from developing a business case for the pick-up with North America.

“It is a conversation we could have, but we haven’t progressed to that maturity at this point,” he said.

“We have a marvelous working relationship with Toyota North America, they are very good to us, and, of course, when the time is right we could have that discussion.”

He added: “I’ve been around this company 30 years and when this company puts its mind to it, it can do anything. But there’s no plans now for a [right-hand drive] Tundra. But it’s certainly a market we are watching deeply, carefully.”

With no official talks underway and the current generation Tundra launching back in 2014, it’s likely Toyota Australia will have to wait until the next generation model, due in 2021, to get factory-built right-hand drive vehicles for local sale.

Source: Drive

November 8, 2018