Toyota’s latest Detroit concept flips on its head the current orthodoxy that pick-ups can’t be green. The A-BAT is a compact pick-up, akin to a RAV4 in size, featuring a four-cylinder petrol/electric hybrid and solar panels built into the top of the dashboard efficient enough to power the sat-nav and other interior tools.
It looks a little Prius-like?
The much-vaunted Prius was indeed an influence in the A-BAT’s green-tinged exterior design leanings. Project chief engineer Ian Cartabiano told CAR: ‘We were trying to break away from traditional truck design, which you could argue doesn’t really promote a green aesthetic. We still did a big bold shape on the grille but tried to do it in a more subtle and humble way. There are small aerodynamic benefits in the shapes of the front bumper too.’
Does the interior move the game on too?
Beyond the conventionally folding flat rear seats to make a longer load floor, the A-BAT’s versatile interior features rear seat base cushions that can retract horizontally beneath the cargo bed to create a large and high load area behind the front seats. A further large sliding drawer extends out from under the tailgate at the rear to create even more secure and hidden storage space.
Up front, between the front seats, a material-covered portable power pack masquerades as a centre armrest and can be unclipped to power electrical tools and camping gear away from the vehicle.
Right now the Toyota designers suggest there is no production vehicle due from this concept, describing it as a purely ‘blue sky’ project. But if reaction were good and with eco legislation set to tighten, Toyota would be mad not to consider using some of this thinking to make its full-sized Tundra truck more acceptable in this greener zeitgeist.
They say: ‘We created a compact truck that’s utilitarian, has a small but tough character and is economical to operate.’
We say: It’s a genuinely fresh take on pick-up design with some neat seating solutions and eco credentials. Ditch the daft name though.
CAR verdict: 4/5