Toyota Building Prius-Flavored Pickup?

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This week’s Automotive News breaks down Toyota’s product plans for the next few years, including supposed plans for a Prius branded compact pickup – likely based on the A-Bat concept pictured here:

Prius branded compact=

A truck based on this concept has been rumored for some time – a hybrid version has been hinted at over the last few years, and Scion President Jack Hollis has hinted at a Scion version of the A-BAT concept for a few months now.

Here’s what we think:

1. Small, car-based pickup trucks seem unlikely to succeed in the US market. As we have detailed previously, American consumers expect their trucks to have power and towing capacity sufficient for a small boat, ATV trailer, etc. That means that a Scion or Prius pickup needs to tow 5k lbs with good power, but it’s hard to envision a hybrid pickup that could meet those specs without costing at least $30k.

At that price point, consumers are going to be weighing the fuel economy benefits of a Prius or Scion pickup against the diminished capability compared to a similarly priced full size. Unless the fuel economy numbers are awesome – and that would be 25mpg overall or better – the cost-benefit of an expensive hybrid pickup with limited capability seems like a tough sell.

2. The Scion version might be gas only and cheap. This is Toyota’s best bet – an inexpensive car-based truck that offers young consumers utility and lots of customization options seems like a smart idea. Frankly, the Jeep Wrangler already occupies this niche – but a Scion pickup, unlike the Wrangler, has some practical real-world application. If a 22 year old consumer fresh out of college can get a cool little AWD Scion pickup for $20k + extras, Toyota will have a winner.

3. Is the truck going to offer 4WD or just AWD? If the Scion/Prius pickup offers 4×4, it has a chance at capturing some off-road enthusiasts. If it comes in AWD, the off-road segment will lose interest. If it comes in FWD only, how many consumers will want it?

4. This truck is coming. We can’t get any confirmation (yet), but there’s every reason to believe Toyota will build this pickup as a Scion and Prius. There have been far too many rumors from reputable sources to believe otherwise.

Here’s to Toyota’s next pickup!

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Taylor says:

    How about a small truck like the old days say any size Toyota pickup from 1980 to 1994 .

  2. Justin says:

    Taylor: Ford has that small 80-94 size truck in the Ranger, which will sadly be discontinued in the next year or or two. Then again, the Ranger has been updated from the ground up since 1993 (17yrs). Ford will not be replacing the Ranger in the US at the current time. And of course, all other makes went to the mid-size category rather than keep it compact.

    And I’m sorry, a car based truck will not work. Look at the Ridgeline as one example of failure. Look at the Subaru Baja.

  3. Justin says:

    Sorry, Ranger hasn’t been updated since 1993, not has been updated.

  4. mk says:

    Won’t sell agree. Only a few yuppies from the city will think it is cool and buy one just to be different, but it serves no purpose.

  5. Jason says:

    Taylor – I hear what you’re saying…just not sure how they make sense. It doesn’t seem like anyone can make a small pickup that’s appreciably cheaper or more efficient than a full size.

    Justin – I agree with you that a car based truck won’t sell, but I’m open to the possibility considering Ford’s emphasis on the Transit Connect and Dodge’s new unibody Dakota. I’ll believe it when I see it, but there are a lot of smart people at the car companies who think they can make it work.

    I think it all hinges on cost and fuel economy. The manufacturer that can offer a ext. cab truck for less than $20k and/or a pickup that gets 25mpg overall will have a winner.

  6. TXTee says:

    I stopped reading when I saw the looks of it. Awful design. End of story for Tee. *big grin* Ok all joking aside, I’m not looking for towing weights but how about a bed that could hold more than a house plant?

    Justin voiced my exact sentiments when he said Ridgeline and Baja…that’s all I kept seeing in the photo. And I like neither one. Kids that want trucks are going to add a little more to it and get something that looks like a truck even if it means they can’t afford gas all the time.

  7. SoFLa says:

    I’d like a car-based truck, like the old El Camino, and was disappointed when Pontiac folded, that they wouldn’t be bringing that G8 concept to fruition. I have a Sport Trac now and love the utility of it and the ability to seat 5 in a pinch, and 4 comfortably, without the large size and poor mileage of a full sized truck. I like the A-BAT concept and look forward to seeing what Toyota comes out with, although I’d prefer to buy American. I was hugely disappointed in the styling of the Ridgeline, but likes some of it’s very thoughtful features.

  8. Justin says:

    SoFla: I’ve always liked the Sport Trac design, but not it’s capability. I understand the large size of 1/2 ton+ trucks today is an issue. But what year Sport Trac do you have? Being I looked at a Sport Trac prior to purchasing my ’02 F150 and ’06 F150, the gas mileage of the Sport Trac isn’t any better than 1/2 ton trucks today. The 2010 F150 is roughly 15/19 mpg. The 2010 Sport Trac is 15/21. Not much to write home about and is barely better than the F150 on the highway. But along with the F150, or other 1/2 ton truck, you get a lot more capability for a small amount more than a Sport Trac with only a very minor hit to the mpgs.

  9. Jason says:

    SoFla – Justin and I have the same question – How much better is your gas mileage in the Sport Trac compared to a crew F150? In the days when I sold both vehicles, my customers would tell me that they got 14-16 mpg…not much difference.

    Justin – Same page.

  10. SoFLa says:

    I have a 2003 and usually average around 18mpg, but that is in mixed city/highway driving. On trips I usually get from 20-22mpg. I liked the SporTrac for it’s passenger room, the best of any 4-door compact/midsize pickup I tried. Even some of the larger trucks have minimal back seat leg room. The F150 was a larger truck than I wanted for driving/parking, especially since I live in an urban area with typically small parking spaces. Even though the SporTrac has a small bed, with the bed extender and tailgate it has served most of my “truck” needs. I don’t do any towing, so understand the need for a more powerful/larger truck for those purposes, but the SporTrac suits me fine. I have ~160K miles on mine and it has been a great vehicle.

  11. SoFLa says:

    Justin and Jason: I acknowledge that mileage has improved for full sized trucks in the last 8 years, but for ’03, the SporTrac wasn’t bad. When the new SporTrac came out, it was rated for slightly worse mileage than my ’03.

  12. Jason says:

    SoFla – No offense meant – I understand your decision completely. Driving a big truck in the city isn’t fun when it’s time to find a late-night parallel parking spot…kind of makes you not want to drive at all, in fact.

    The 03′ probably had a better rating than newer SporTracs because the EPA changed the way they calculated fuel economy. My guess is that both models get about the same.

    Your truck, however, is getting great mileage. 18-20 is awesome! 🙂

  13. […] the new engine(s) arrive in 2013, they will not be accompanied by a redesign.In other rumors, the Prius Pickup we’ve written about on seems to be more unlikely than ever at this point — at least as a Prius. Toyota has indicated […]

  14. Ray Tarkington says:

    Think author/commenters do not understand. My Prius gets 50, – that’s over DOUBLE the gas mileage of any other pickup, and NO I do not expect to tow a boat. I could EASILY put on a slide in camper or use it for a small biz. Think of it more as a smaller Avalanche, with TRIPLE the fuel effect, the mid gate is an even bigger deal in small pickups and Ridgeline was a huge disappointment that they left it out. If it comes out it will replace my Element. I don’t haul hay bails and I like easy parking.

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