A right-hand-drive version of the Toyota Tundra will be engineered in Australia, in partnership with the firm behind Ram and Chevrolet pick-ups in Australia. Yet it has not been confirmed for Toyota showrooms.
Toyota Australia has confirmed it is developing a factory-backed but locally-converted right-hand-drive version of the 2023 Toyota Tundra full-size pick-up – but a local showroom arrival has not been locked in.
In a surprise announcement today, Toyota Australia will partner with Walkinshaw – which ‘re-manufactures’ the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado from left to right-hand drive in Australia, with factory backing – to “re-engineer” the Tundra for right-hand drive on local soil.
However, despite an “extensive” development program – which will see 300 prototypes hit local roads – Toyota Australia says “an Australian [right-hand-drive] Tundra faces further checkpoints in Toyota’s global approval process before its retail introduction can be confirmed.”
Based on development timelines given by Toyota Australia, if the Tundra is confirmed for sale locally, it is unlikely to be available before sometime in 2024.
If the Toyota Tundra makes it to Australian showrooms with factory backing, it would face off against the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado – as well as the Ford F-150, due in Ford showrooms next year, re-manufactured from left- to right-hand-drive by Thai firm RMA.
Toyota Australia will focus its attention on the Tundra Hybrid available in the US, with a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 and an electric motor – the first hybrid in the full-size pick-up class in Australia (excluding the mild-hybrid ‘DT’ Ram 1500 V8).
“Toyota has confirmed an extensive development program in Australia for the Tundra pick-up, demonstrating its intention for local development and evaluation experts to re-engineer Tundra in a [right-hand-drive] format and evaluate the vehicle against Australia’s severe local conditions and tough customer use,” Toyota Australia said in a media statement.
The Japanese car giant selected the Walkinshaw Automotive Group as its partner, for its “extensive experience in this type of work” re-manufacturing the Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado from left to right-hand drive in Victoria, with the backing of their factories in the US.
Walkinshaw will “develop and build” the right-hand-drive Tundra, presumably at its Melbourne facility – ruling out a factory-built, right-hand-drive Toyota Tundra from the US.
“Toyota’s focus on ensuring delivery of its hallmark quality, durability and reliability attributes is expected to result in one of the most thorough development projects undertaken for a vehicle program of this type in Australia,” Toyota Australia said in a media statement.
The car maker says “prototype testing” will begin in Australia next month (September 2022), with a fleet of 300 late-stage development vehicles to hit the road in late 2023.
These 300 pick-ups will represent the “final stage of the [right-hand-drive] re-engineering program”, and will drive in “real world usage conditions” – but won’t be available for sale to the public.
The right-hand-drive Toyota Tundra engineering program will use “key components from Toyota’s comprehensive global parts catalogue”, the company says, and will “set a new benchmark in Australia for the re-engineering of a full-sized pick-up truck from [left] to [right-hand drive].”
Parts used will include the steering column and rack, accelerator and brake pedals, and shift lever from the LandCruiser 300 platform – which shares its ‘TNGA-F’ underpinnings with the new Tundra.
As mentioned, all vehicles will be fitted with a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 in a hybrid system – after trademarks for the Tundra name and the hybrid’s US-market ‘iForce Max’ badge were registered by Toyota Australia.
“This 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,” Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia Vice President Sales, Marketing and Franchise Operations, said in a statement.
“It will utilise [factory-built] 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 [right-hand-drive] 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 ahead.”
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.