‘Never’ is a long time in the automotive world and for Toyota’s mega ute the Tundra ‘never’
looks just about a sure thing, with news the ‘full-size’ pickup is being evaluated for
conversion to right hand drive.

In 2020 Toyota told us the chances of its larger utes making an appearance here were
slim given they were manufactured only in left-hand drive. By larger utes we mean the
Tacoma and even larger Tundra which are offered in overseas markets.

To give them some context, a dual cab Hilux is 5345mm in length, while Tacoma is
5728mm and the big kahuna, Tundra — is 6289mm.

Until now Tundra has been available only through Queensland-based Performax which
converts them to right-hand drive along with big utes from other manufacturers.

In recent times, however, there has been a surge of interest in these larger utes led by
Ram which is imported with factory backing by Ateco Automotive.

Toyota must want a slice of action as it has just revealed an extensive development
program is underway in Australia, with a view to re-engineering Tundra to right-hand drive.

With extensive experience in this type of work, Toyota has partnered with Walkinshaw
Automotive Group to develop and build Tundra right-hand drive vehicles for Australia.

Tundra will be evaluated against Australia’s severe local conditions and tough customer

The focus will be to ensure the finished product meets Toyota’s quality, durability and
reliability, with one of the most thorough development projects undertaken for a vehicle
program of this type in Australia.

After significant development in-house, prototype testing on public roads is due to begin
within weeks.

Then, starting from the fourth quarter of 2023, Toyota will put some 300 cars on the road
around Australia, as part of the final stages of the re-engineering program.

Toyota says these vehicles will not be for sale but will be monitored to see how they
perform under real world conditions.

The program is expected to set a new benchmark in Australia for the re-engineering of a
full-sized pick-up truck from left-hand right-hand drive.

It will include the adoption of key components from Toyota’s comprehensive global parts
catalogue, including the steering column and rack, accelerator and brake pedals and shift
lever from the LandCruiser 300 platform.

The vehicles will be equipped with a new in-line hybrid system featuring a twin-turbo 3.5-
litre petrol V6 which we are told is the most advanced and fuel-efficient powertrain
available for this model.

An Australian RHD Tundra faces further checkpoints in Toyota’s global approval process
before its retail introduction can be confirmed.

Toyota’s Sean Hanley said the local company and its dealers were eagerly anticipating
being part of this program.

“This is a dedicated re-engineering program, led by Toyota Australia and made possible
by our global partners and is closely supported by our parent company and Toyota North
America,” he said.

“It will utilise OE levels of design, development, testing and componentry rooted in
Toyota’s deep commitment to quality, durability and reliability.

“This project shows just how serious we are at Toyota about quality, and a RHD Tundra
will not be available for sale in Australia, until we are totally satisfied.

“We are really excited to get such a significant project to this stage, and look forward to
seeing development prototypes on our roads and test tracks in the weeks and months

Just quietly, we reckon the TRD version of the big ute is the pick of the bunch.

Don’t expect it to be cheap though. These full-sized pickups usually have a three-figure
price tag.

About Chris Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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