A Toyota rival to the Ford Maverick sounds like a good idea.
Toyota is looking at entering the compact pickup truck segment, with a new model that would slot in beneath the Tacoma and Hilux, reports the South African publication CarMag.
Speaking at the State of the Motor Industry event that took place at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, Toyota SA's Leon Theron said, "watch this space in the next three years for the LCV (light commercial vehicle) segment with potentially a small [truck] from Toyota." Aside from that, not much else was said about the newcomer, but it would make a lot of sense for the automaker to enter this fledgling segment.
In the United States, Ford's popular Maverick has become a sales success, with a staggering 74,370 examples sold in 2022. Hyundai's Santa Cruz, the Maverick's only true rival, managed just 36,480 units - still impressive, though.
With a strong reputation for building dependable trucks like the Hilux, Toyota would do very well in this segment. What's more, it could be positioned as a global model and sold in key markets like the United States, Australia, the Middle East, and South Africa.
If the company is looking into developing a Maverick rival, it's certainly not alone. Rumors that General Motors is plotting a riposte were only fuelled when news broke that the automaker was benchmarking the Maverick. This was exacerbated by a secretive design study that showcased a GM-branded two-door, electric compact truck.
It would be interesting to see whether Toyota goes down the electric route, or chooses to develop the new baby truck as a traditional ICE vehicle. As we know, the Japanese brand is somewhat reticent to go all-in on EVs.
However, a battery-powered compact pickup could just be what the automaker needs to claim its stake in the ever-growing EV marketplace.
Then again, that would mean the vehicle would have limited appeal in markets like South America, for example, where diesel and gasoline still rule the roost.
If and when it arrives, it's more likely to adopt a hybrid or plug-in hybrid setup, which Toyota currently favors. That would give the brand access to a host of existing powerplants like you'd find in a Corolla or RAV4 crossover. Regarding styling, we don't see Toyota straying too far from what it knows, and assume it will take on the role of a mini Hilux - one of the most popular pickups in the South African market where the comments were made.
Then again, we've seen that the upcoming Tacoma will derive design inspiration from the existing Tundra, so there's a possibility the yet-to-be-confirmed model will do the same. This is, of course, speculation until Toyota confirms anything.
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