Hybrid Toyota Tundra Feature List – LEDs, Electricity Generating Shocks, and Solar Panel Truck Beds
After talking to an old friend in the car business, I felt inspired to try and chase down some features that might find their way to the hybrid Tundra (which is likely due out in 2016).
While it’s still early to discuss this truck, the fact is Toyota has likely already decided on features, options, and capabilities of the world’s first real hybrid pickup (no, GM’s psuedo-hybrid Silverado doesn’t carry, as it wasn’t a true hybrid powertrain…more like a hybrid-assisted engine).
Here are some hybrid Tundra features that my informed and intelligent sources think might be on the table:
Likely Hybrid Tundra Features
Everything we’re seeing in the latest-generation Prius and EV Rav4 is on the table for the hybrid Tundra, including:
- Regenerative breaking, start-stop, electric steering and heat pumps, low-rolling resistance tires, and LED lighting all around (everything will be LED)
- Lithium-ion batteries
- Aerodynamic enhancements (only it seems unlikely that the hybrid Tundra would look different than the standard truck)
- Significant use of high-strength steel and aluminum
- Active transmission warm-up and engine heat recovery using thermoelectric power (see this explanation of said system on the 2013 Ram – https://green.autoblog.com/2012/09/13/engineers-wasted-engine-heat-fuel-economy/)
- Magna’s active shutter system (or similar – see https://tundraheadquarters.com/2012/10/03/how-active-grille-shutters-work/)
Possible Hybrid Tundra Features
- Composite truck bed (similar to the Tacoma) rather than steel
- Electricity-generating shocks (see the GenShock from Levant Power – pretty cool idea that is supposedly cost effective)
- Thermoelectric exhaust system generators, which use heat from the exhaust to generate electricity
Wild Hybrid Idea – Clear Polycarbonate Truck Bed Floor with Solar Panels Below
While this is pure speculation, clear polycarbonate panels with integrated solar cells could be used inside a truck bed, as they would be strong enough for daily use while also generating power.
If, for example, you parked a 6.5′ foot truck bed in the sun and lined it with approximately 25 square feet of solar panels, you could generate 1kw of juice each day (assuming 10 watts per square foot and about 4 hours of useful sunlight). 1kw isn’t much, but considering that the latest Prius has a battery capacity of 1.3kw, 1kw of “free” power each in a Tundra hybrid might be good for a 10%-20% boost in fuel efficiency.
What’s more, if the panels were placed between ribs in the bed (like the old wood-panel beds that were used once upon a time), they wouldn’t really bear most of the weight in the bed, and wouldn’t be scratched much either.
In terms of cost, it seems likely this system could be integrated into a truck for $2500 or so (figuring $100 per square foot for Lexan covered photo cells, which is 25% higher than current pricing to account for other expenses).
While $2500 is a LOT to pay for 1kw of juice per day, it might be worth a big bump in a vehicle’s fuel economy rating. If that bump in fuel economy rating is enough to help Ford or Toyota qualify for a CAFE credit, it could save them millions in penalties, which in turn would make this system cost-effective.
What’s more, it would be a very cool “green” feature that would give the Tundra hybrid some credibility with the greenies.
Like I said, speculation, but hopefully interesting…
Filed Under: Tundra Hybrid