Libyan Police Use Toyota Tundras

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It might not be the most flattering endorsement of a Toyota product, but here it is: a New York Times article features an image of riot police rolling down the street in armored blue Toyota Tundras.

Libyan police using Toyota Tundra

New York Times photographers captured these Libyan police using Toyota Tundras - click the image to see the original story

The question is, who sold the Libyans these trucks? The only thing worse than a North African dictator using a made-in-the-USA pickup to crush rebellion is using a made-in-the-USA pickup that was potentially sold by a US police vehicle upfitting business.

Where Tundras Are Sold

Back in 2008 when Toyota was reeling from a severe drop-off in pickup demand, they quietly announced plans to export the Tundra and the Sequoia to the Middle East and Latin America. However, a quick survey of Toyota’s website shows that the Tundra isn’t available from any Middle East Toyota distributor, nor is it available in any neighboring African countries. Only the Sequoia is available, and then only in the Middle East.

Toyota Africa distribution

Toyota is very popular on the African content, but they don't sell vehicles in Libya

Checking Toyota websites in Latin America, we find that the Tundra is available in BoliviaChile, Costa Rica, and perhaps Nicaragua (only the specs on the Tundra page are old). We also find that the Tundra is available in Mexico. Could these Libyan Tundras have come from somewhere in Central or South America?

We also found some brand new “gray market” Tundras being sold on a United Arab Emirates classifieds site. Since Toyota doesn’t officially export the Tundra to the U.A.E., this is almost certainly a Tundra that was sold in the USA and then exported. The UAE has numerous tariff-free trade zones that allow goods to enter and exit the country with ease, so it’s entirely possible that Libya’s trucks came from a US police upfitter.

According to one Toyota fleet manager here in the USA we spoke to:

It’s a good bet those Libyan trucks came from Mexico or somewhere in South America. It’s hard to tell [from the picture] but it looks like those trucks were all part of the same order. Some foriegn upfitter must have done them up and then shipped them off to Libya. It would be very, very risky for a U.S. company to try this sort of thing. Toyota would frown upon this business decision and might not work with that particular upfitter any longer.

An “upfitter” is a company that specializes in commercial upgrades/enhancements to otherwise factory trucks. Police and emergency vehicle upfitters are the companies that take a stock vehicle off a dealer’s lot and turn it into a fire truck, police truck, etc. Most of them work exclusively with local governments in the USA, but a handful also deal in exports.

According to our fleet manager (and he’s been doing Toyota fleet a long time), it’s unlikely that these Libyan trucks came from a US dealership and/or upfitter. Even though the USA lifted most sanctions on Libya a few years ago – and there would be nothing illegal about selling Tundras to Libya – Toyota frowns upon the practice.

However, there’s no way to be sure as to where the Tundras in the pictures above came from. If you know anything about where these trucks could have been upfitted please comment below.

Thanks to for pointing this out.

Filed Under: Auto News


RSSComments (7)

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  1. Deznutjob says:

    Time to readjust the IP address filters! We may be shutting out a whole new Tundra crowd from Tundra sites!!

    I’m sure the Tundra owners in these countries could use a little performance mod info.

  2. dave h says:

    i dont see what the big deal is, they are american made toyodas, lower quality then the Japanese Toyodas .

  3. mk says:

    That is not the kind of fleet sales toyota needs right now to increase sales. This whole idea of Libyans driving our tundras makes me a tad sick to my stomach. Hey, but they got the money and like they say, if you got the money, you can pretty much get THE BEST!

  4. Jason (Admin) says:

    Dez – I guess so…going to have to get a Libyan translation too! LOL

    Dave H – What bothers me is that some US company may have been involved in the upfit of armor and lights and the sale. I guess that’s hypocritical of me being that I’m a free-market guy, but so be it. Sometimes it’s OK not to do business with bad people.

    As for U.S. made Toyota products having lower quality, it depends on the plant. The Camry, for example, is made just as well in the USA as it is in Japan (some years better).

    mk – You’re absolutely right, if they have the money they can buy whatever they want. I’m sure that they choose a Toyota truck because it’s easier to service locally than something from the “domestics” or Nissan.

  5. […] mystery. No one seems to know (or forthcoming about) who sold these trucks and who upfitted them. Libyan Police Use Toyota Tundras | Tundra Headquarters __________________ 2010 Toyota Tundra, Crewmax, 4×4, 5.7, TRD Off Road, SR5, Silver Sky Metalic […]

  6. Mickey says:

    It’s good to see the truck being used for law enforcement. It shows some capabilities no matter what country is using it.

  7. TXTee says:

    I’ll agree with Mickey’s statement. Not too concerned with how it got there….money rules the world and I’m sure there are more horrible things to uncover.

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