Home Auto News Top secret plan to bring Toyota Tundra to Australia

Top secret plan to bring Toyota Tundra to Australia


Toyota Australia is reportedly “well progressed” with plans to bring the iconic Toyota Tundra pick-up to local showrooms, but for now the company says it is still “under study”.

The US pick-up battle in Australia between Ram and Chevrolet could soon be joined by Ford and Toyota – with the Japanese car giant believed to be working on a top-secret plan to bring the Tundra Down Under.

Now Toyota – the world’s biggest automotive manufacturer and Australia’s top-selling car brand for the past 17 years – is exploring the possibility of introducing the iconic Toyota Tundra pick-up to sit above the Toyota HiLux in its ute range in local showrooms.

The Toyota Tundra is made in the US and has only ever been manufactured in left-hand-drive.

Independent importers have dabbled with right-hand-drive Toyota Tundra conversions in recent years, but the quality is not up to factory-built standards, and converters tend to go on a bit of a parts raid to cobble them together.

Toyota Australia this week formally opened its technology centre in the outer Melbourne suburb of Altona at the former Toyota Camry factory.

Toyota’s local design and engineering divisions moved into the refurbished factory site from their former headquarters in Port Melbourne earlier this year.

The facility that completes the final assembly on Toyota HiLux Rogue and Toyota HiLux Rugged X models – and the Toyota Mirai hydrogen refuelling station – are also part of the new Toyota technology hub.

During the opening of the facility earlier this week, Toyota Australia representatives were asked if the vast site could also be home to a local conversion facility for the latest generation Toyota Tundra pick-up.

“We don’t have plans to do left- to right-hand-drive (conversions on site),” said Toyota Australia’s head of product planning, Rod Ferguson. “In fact, we don’t actually have that capability, but we are definitely looking at what other things we can utilise.”

When asked if the Toyota Tundra had been ruled out for Australia – either as a factory-built right-hand-drive vehicle or a locally-converted product – the senior Toyota Australia executive said: “We haven’t ruled it out. We’ve been on record many times for saying that … we are very interested in that market. If we are ever able to find a way or a business case to bring that product to Australia, then we’ll try to pursue that. But at the moment, we don’t have the answer around that.”

When asked if Toyota Australia could establish its own local conversion facility or appoint a third-party, the senior Toyota Australia executive said: “Purely in this facility, we don’t, and within our capability, we don’t. The only way we would ever achieve something like that would be through some sort of a partnership or arrangement.”

When asked for further clarification on the likelihood of the new generation Toyota Tundra coming to Australia, a statement from Toyota after the media briefing said: “We continue to study the Tundra as a possible future model of interest to introduce to the Australian market. If we are able to make a business case to introduce the Tundra in Australia, Toyota will make announcements in due course.”

Given that Toyota Australia has no plans to convert the vehicle to right-hand-drive in-house, it is unclear who Toyota would approach to carry out the local engineering and re-assembly.

The Walkinshaw Automotive Group has a full roster with Ram, Chevrolet and Volkswagen – and Premcar is closely tied to Nissan with the Navara Warrior program. The Ford F-150 conversion in Australia is expected to be handled by Thailand-based RMA Group, at a new site in Melbourne.

While Toyota remains tight-lipped about the likelihood of the Tundra becoming a part of the Toyota Australia showroom line-up, dealer sources have told Drive Toyota is “well progressed” with plans to sell the Tundra in Australia.

The plan being investigated is to sell the Toyota Tundra through Toyota Australia showrooms as a factory-backed and warranted product – however Drive understands the program has not been signed off and is yet to gain final approval.

A number of dealers contacted by Drive said they were unaware of any plans regarding the Tundra, and were yet to be advised.

However, other well-placed Toyota dealer sources are optimistic it will happen, and say Toyota Australia has been working on the program for some time.

If the factory-backed Toyota Tundra local conversion program goes ahead, Drive has been given an estimated showroom arrival of 2023.

It is unclear if Toyota would offer the new twin turbo V6 petrol variant or the new twin turbo V6 petrol paired to a hybrid – or both.

Both models have similar performance to the V8-powered Ram and Chevrolet utes and are line-ball with the twin turbo V6 Ford F-150, however Toyota says the hybrid Tundra has diesel-like levels of torque.

While sales of US pick-ups have shattered Australian records this year, Toyota’s HiLux has come under attack from the Ford Ranger and is only holding on to a narrow lead in this year’s sales race.

The addition of the Toyota Tundra would give Toyota HiLux customers and opportunity to step up to a bigger and more capable vehicle – and prevent those customers from defecting to rival brands.

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in late 2018, and has been a World Car of the Year judge for 10 years.

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