Libyan Police Use Toyota Tundras
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.
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.
Checking Toyota websites in Latin America, we find that the Tundra is available in Bolivia, Chile, 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 PickupTrucks.com for pointing this out.
Filed Under: Auto News