With the competition making moves, it's only a matter of time before Toyota electrifies the Tundra.
A trend is occurring in the full-size truck segment. The all-new Ram 1500 already has it and soon the Ford F-150 will as well. GM has already announced it's examining doing the same for its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins. Figure it out yet? In case you haven't, we'll tell you: electrification.
The 2019 Ram 1500 eTorque is equipped with a motor/generator connected to the engine's crankshaft that generates electricity with regenerative braking. This system comes standard on the base 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and is only a $1,450 option for the 5.7-liter Hemi V8. It's also optional on the new Jeep Wrangler, and we have no doubt that consumers will gladly pay for it.
As for Ford, its recent announcement of an upcoming F-150 hybrid and (gulp!) fully electric F-150 will soon force its two Detroit rivals to do the same, meaning all-electric full-size trucks are coming. Detroit can't let Elon Musk win this fight.
But there's another significant player in the truck segment with an impeccable reputation and deeply loyal buyers. Toyota, maker of the mid-size Tacoma and full-size Tundra, hasn't updated the latter since 2014. During our recent talk with Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager of Toyota North America, at Detroit earlier this month, we discussed what's happening with the Tundra. Given its age and segment-changing factors, something has to be done.
Although he didn't provide a precise timeline, he did make clear that Toyota's goal is to offer electrified versions of all of its models. We sought further clarification from company spokeswoman, Nancy Hubbell, and were told "our goal is to offer an electrified version of all our models, so it's something we're aiming to incorporate in the future."
Hollis also acknowledged that Tundra updates are coming. Given the current state of the competition, chances are either a heavily updated or an entirely new Tundra will arrive for the 2021 model year. Question is, will it be electrified to some degree? Absolutely. It has to be. Whether it be CAFE standards and/or the competition, an electrified Tundra is coming. It's an open secret.
Whether the current 4.6- and 5.7-liter V8s remain is unknown. The 4.0-liter V6 was dropped in 2015, but it's possible Toyota will connect one or both V8s to a hybrid system, and Toyota just so happens to be an expert with hybrid tech. What we're wondering is which engine Toyota will choose for this hybrid pairing? Both V8s are old but it also depends on the extent of the truck's redesign.
Ford, for example, has only one V8 available right now for the F-150, while the rest are V6s. Clearly, this is pure speculation, but we wouldn't be surprised to see the Multi Stage Hybrid System and its lithium-ion battery adapted to work with at least one of these V8s.
Another possibility is the 3.5-liter V6 paired with the same hybrid system found in the Lexus LS 500h and LC 500h. The former produces a combined total of 354 hp and, to compare, the 4.6- and 5.7-liter V8s have 310 and 381 hp, respectively. If Toyota were to reduce the Tundra's weight somehow and improve the output of the hybrid system, we could easily see a V6 hybrid Tundra.
Of course, Toyota could have another powertrain in mind entirely, but the fact remains: an electrified Tundra is only a matter of time and everyone knows it.