Toyota is known the world over as one of the most progressive and environmentally friendly corporations around — one need look no further than Toyota’s commanding share of the US hybrid market for proof. However, some entities are critical of Toyota because they are debuting the largest, most powerful Toyota Tundra ever. The new 5.7L V8, in addition to being one liter larger than the engine it replaces, is expected to sell better than the previous model. According to some of these protesters, Toyota has taken a “step backwards” by building and selling this monster-sized truck and the huge engine in it, and they should be chastised.
Recently Freedom From Oil, an activist group that is focused on a “pollution-free, petroleum-free” vehicle, put up a banner protesting the new Tundra during the New York Auto Show. While I whole-heartedly agree that the world would be a better place if it were pollution and petroleum free (assuming of course that means a workable alternative), I think that Freedom From Oil is missing the boat here.
For starters, truck sales are a zero-sum game. Most industry experts agree the size of the large truck segment in the US is going to stay the same or shrink, meaning that fewer new large trucks will be sold this year than in the previous year. If Toyota sells more new Tundras this year, it will be at the expense of Nissan, GM, Ford, and Chrysler. In fact we’ve already seen that happen this year with domestic truck sales falling as Toyota truck sales stay level.
The large size and the supposed poor efficiency of the new Tundra is also a non-issue. If you accept that the Ford, GM, Chrysler, and Nissan products are all roughly equivalent in terms of fuel economy and efficiency, a person choosing to buy a new Tundra is hurting the environment no worse than if they choose a new F150, Silverado, Ram, etc. Combine the similar efficiency of large trucks between manufacturers with the fact that any increase in Tundra sales will come from a competitor and it’s pretty clear this is a publicity stunt.
Reading through Freedom From Oil’s press release, it’s obvious to me that the real motive is to tarnish Toyota’s image with the green set. I doubt this will work. For one thing, recently released “green rankings” from the Union of Concerned Scientists state that Toyota is doing a good job protecting the environment. In this study of auto manufacturer’s and their relative environmental friendliness, Toyota finished just behind Honda for second place. The closest domestic truck manufacturer (and the leader in the large truck segment) was Ford, ranking 6th place overall. Based on these results, it would seem that someone choosing a Tundra over a F150 would be BETTER for the environment, not worse as Freedom From Oil would lead us to believe.
Freedom From Oil is a great concept, but these activists might be more effective if their protests actually made sense.
Everyone knows the Toyota Tundra can stop heavy loads, but now an armoring company in Texas has figured out how to make the Tundra stop bullets. That’s right — Texas Armoring Corp. is converting a Toyota Tundra into a personal armored vehicle for a secret client. The Tundra, in addition to stopping armor-piercing rounds from an M16 or an AK47, has the ability to create its own smokescreen, to drop razor-sharp tacks on the road as it escapes danger, and to shock anyone that tries to enter the vehicle with electrified door-handles.
The Tundra being converted is a black 2007 DoubleCab Limited. When it’s complete, the Tundra will have 2″ thick armored glass and a secret combination of steel, nylon, and composite materials hidden in body panels surrounding the cab. The window glass, similar to glass used in the canopies of modern jet fighters, is designed to not only stop incoming bullets but actually reflect them away. The doors of the truck will feature a special woven composite fiber 2″ thick that is much lighter than steel but capable of stopping a round fired from a modern automatic weapon, even from point-blank range. The hood, fenders, fuel tank, radiator, and even battery will all receive armored protection to ensure that this Tundra can withstand several direct hits to critical systems and still be able to whisk the owner away to safety.
Who’s this truck for? That’s a secret. The San Antonio Express-News reports the person this truck is being built for is a Texas resident who frequently travels to Mexico. According to the newspaper, several powerful Mexican drug lords have marked this man and his family for death. Unfortunately, these drug lords have already managed to kill both of this man’s brothers. Obviously, in addition to being armored this Tundra needs this vehicle to be discreet. While we can only speculate, the Tundra Limited was probably chosen for its combination of power, size, and unassuming luxury.
When the Tundra is complete it will look just like any other Black DoubleCab Limited — except for a handful of details that only a keen observer would notice. The armoring in the doors is designed to be light-weight so that doors don’t sag when they are opened or closed, a sure tip-off that the vehicle may be armored. The suspension is upgraded so the vehicle maintains the factory empty ride height, disguising the extra 2,000 lbs of armor the truck will be hauling. The front windows, even though they’re thicker and heavier than normal glass, can be raised and lowered just like a normal Tundra. This combination of armored protection with a nondescript, casual appearance should serve the new owner well.
The Tundra’s smokescreen is produced by intentionally spraying anti-freeze onto the hot exhaust manifold, creating a thick whitish smoke. This is nearly identical to the method used by the US Army M1 Abrams tank to create smokescreens. The electrified door handles, designed to shock anyone who attempts to enter the vehicle while under attack, pass a high voltage charge that temporarily stuns the attacker. Finally, razor sharp tacks, carried behind the rear wheels, are designed to land with the “sharp side up” and can instantly flatten the tires of any pursuing vehicle. If the attackers try to flatten the tires on this Toyota Tundra they won’t be successful — the truck has special run-flat plastic rim inserts that support the truck even if the tires have been turned to shreds.
The entire package is reported to have cost $90,000 dollars. While it may seem like an extravagance to some, Texas Armoring Corp. reports that more than 80% of all attacks (assassination or terrorist) occur while the person being targeted is in their vehicle. The world understands that point too — Texas Armoring Corp has upgraded over 1,500 vehicles with protection and has shipped them to Europe, South America, the Middle East, and the U.S.
Here are some interesting facts and links:
A 7.62 x 51 NATO Armor Piercing (AP) round is used in the US M-60 machine gun as well as various rifles. It can reach a muzzle velocity of 2,756 feet/second, more than MACH 2. The Tundra, when complete, will be resistant to this round.
The total cost of the vehicle is estimated to be $125,000 when completed. That’s about $2,450 a month on a five year loan (plus taxes of course).
Today, I’ve added a couple of links to the blogroll, including a nice FREE Consumer Reports page with Toyota reviews…not a bad find for an hours work.
While looking for other sites out there about the Toyota Tundra, I found a blog by “Doc” who lives in the Nunavut Territory, Canada. Evidently, they have another version of Tundra their that’s sometimes used for golf.
Some quick stats:
As of 2006, the city of Pond Inlet is the 8th largest in the Nunavut Territory with a population of 1,315 .
Pond Inlet is only accessible by water only 3 1/2 months a year, meaning most goods must be flown in by air.
Due to high transportation costs, a can of soda can cost as much as $4.50 (CA), depending upon the time of year.
The best way to get around is a snowmobile or four-wheeler.
Pond Inlet is a good place to see killer whale, polar bear, and icebergs.
I can’t imagine living their…what would it be like? I don’t know how anyone does it, and I have great respect for the 1300 people that do.
Here’s the blog I found, Tundra Golf, with pictures of Port Inlet and the intrepid golfers that live their.
This is the third and final part of our comparison series Toyota Tundra v. Dodge Ram. In this segment, we
The second part of our Tundra v. Ram comparison will evaluate the relative cost of the two trucks and compare the features of both. We’re only going to highlight the features that are unique and non-commercial. In other words, something the