Toyota Returns to Its Compact Truck Roots With the A-BAT Concept Vehicle

Jan 02, 2008, 00:00 ET from Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc.

    TORRANCE, Calif., Jan. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Toyota Motor Sales (TMS),
 U.S.A., Inc., returns to its compact pickup truck roots with its latest
 concept vehicle A-BAT. The environmentally advanced A-BAT provides modern
 versatility, roominess and style in a compact pickup architecture. The
 A-BAT will be on display at the Toyota exhibit in Detroit at the 2008 North
 American International Auto Show beginning Monday, Jan. 14.
     "Driving from beyond the suburbs to the city is a way of life for many
 people," said Kevin Hunter, president, Calty Design Research, Inc. "We've
 taken Toyota's truck heritage to a different level by envisioning a vehicle
 capable of maneuvering the suburbs as well as dirt roads. This compact
 truck is as comfortable for long commutes as it is for road trips. It can
 accommodate outdoor toys and home improvement supplies. Plus, customers
 benefit from the hybrid powertrain's low emissions and fuel economy."
     The A-BAT concept was developed by the TMS Advanced Product Strategy
 group and Calty, Toyota's North American-based, research and design center
 located in Newport Beach, Calif. Together, they identified a buyer group
 whose unique combination of lifestyle activities and vehicle needs required
 a vehicle that as of now is not available in the market place. The team
 created a new genre of compact vehicle with good fuel economy, advanced
 functionality, maneuverability, unique styling within its segment, and a
 durable package suitable for an active lifestyle. Advanced styling was also
 key in making the A-BAT appropriate for today's market.
     The A-BAT concept rides on a unibody platform for car-like handling
 when navigating city streets and crowded parking lots, and smooth ride
 quality for highway trips and the everyday commute. In addition, its
 lightweight package coupled with Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive(R)
 technology is designed to deliver excellent fuel economy. Translucent solar
 panels in the top surface of the instrument panel capture sunlight and
 convert it into energy, showcasing the vehicle's "green" character.
 Positioned below the Toyota Tacoma, A-BAT integrates truck features with
 car fundamentals for an efficient and modern package.
     The A-BAT's unique aerodynamic exterior was crafted by Calty Project
 Chief Designer Ian Cartabiano and Creative Designer Matt Sperling. They
 integrated Toyota's design philosophy, "Vibrant Clarity" into the exterior
 by keeping the design forward-looking, crisp and functional.
     The concept's unique look is a combination of the large body surfaces,
 intersecting tight surface planes, crisp lines and the trapezoidal profile.
 The A-BAT's 19-inch wheels sit at the vehicle's corners creating a tough
 and ready stance.
     "We studied the 'trapezoid' silhouette from the side profile of the
 Toyota Prius and applied it to create an entirely new truck image," said
 Sperling. He further enhanced the trapezoidal profile by placing the cab
 forward, and using fast angle A- and C-pillars, shortened overhangs, and a
 sleek front window.
     "The bold grille showcases Toyota's reverse trapezoid and T-face theme
 in a new way," explained Cartabiano. "The bed is defined by the C-pillar
 and is clearly separated from the cab to allow it to stand out from the
 rest of the profile."
     "The image of a NATO all-terrain military truck inspired us to keep the
 occupants as far forward as possible to maximize rear bed capacity in this
 compact package," stated Sperling.
     The A-BAT features a four-foot bed, but has more flexibility than the
 standard pickup truck. A translucent roof panel slides open to allow for
 tall cargo in the cab. When the pass-through midgate is folded down into
 the cab the bed lengthens an additional two feet. An open tailgate provides
 an additional two-foot of bed length. The A-BAT offers customers the
 versatility of hauling a standard 4x8 sheet of plywood one day, then taking
 a family on a camping trip to the lake the next.
     The bed has features perfect for work and play. These include tailgate
 lighting for illuminating the load in the bed, a first aid kit and
 flashlight integrated into the tailgate, sliding tie downs, and an AC power
 outlet. Items such as sports and leisure equipment can be stored in the
 lockable drawers in the bed walls. The concept also has additional storage
 that is accessible through sliding doors conveniently placed in and outside
 of the truck bed. For even more storage capacity the A-BAT comes with a
 large sliding drawer beneath the bed, accessible without opening the
     Although the A-BAT is rugged and has a spirited exterior, the interior
 team worked to create a modern look for the interior.
     "We balanced colors and fabrics that were both bright and vibrant, but
 also captured an urban-rugged feel with their energetic and geometric
 qualities," said Alan Schneider, Project Chief Designer.
     "The inspiration behind the exposed structure on the interior was drawn
 from high-end mountain bike frames," added Daryl Harris, Senior Creative
 Designer. "We applied lightweight construction materials, such as carbon
 fiber and aluminum, to the instrument panel, console and seats for
 increased structural rigidity while reducing mass."
     The rigid, yet sculptured alloy center console runs between the two
 front seats and houses a portable power pack. The battery pack offers both
 AC and DC for a wide variety of applications including powering tools,
 electrical gear while camping, a laptop computer, small appliances or
 assisting a vehicle jump start.
     The door trim, shoulder, armrest and instrument panel pads and seat
 cushions are made of a tough, lightweight and comfortable material that can
 be selected for personalization. In addition the colors are coordinated to
 enhance the sleek interior environment. The center console and door pockets
 feature carbon fiber components to complete the durable and modern look.
     The four-passenger A-BAT offers numerous seating and storage
 configurations. In addition to the rear seats folding down with the midgate
 to extend the cargo bed length, the rear seat cushions can retract beneath
 the cargo bed to increase rear cab cargo flexibility. A removable storage
 tray beneath the rear seat offers tie downs and organizing compartments to
 secure loose cargo.
     Inside the A-BAT has a retractable portable navigation unit with a
 seven-inch diagonal screen and Wi-Fi internet. Other advanced features
 include a port for portable device assistant synchronization and a hard
 drive for digital music.
     Both the driver and front passenger have a large multi-information
 display screens on the IP to view the status of their high tech gadgets and
 HVAC and audio settings.
     The solar panels on the dash recapture energy from the sun to assist in
 the charging of the navigation unit, portable power pack and backlit
 information displays.
     "This concept is the next evolution of the compact truck," said Hunter.
 "We were able to create a compact truck that's utilitarian, has an original
 profile compared to other pickup trucks, has a 'small, but tough' character
 and is economical to operate. The A-BAT is a fun-to-drive, practical
 package that reflects Toyota's environmental sustainability message."
TOYOTA A-BAT CONCEPT PICKUP TRUCK PRELIMINARY SPECIFICATIONS DRIVETRAIN Four cylinder gas engine with Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive(R) DIMENSIONS (inches) Overall Length: 181.3 Overall Width: 74.4 Overall Height: 64.0 Wheelbase: 112.2 Bed Length: 48.0 Bed Length with Midgate down: 72.0 Bed Length with Midgate and Tailgate down: 96.0 Wheel Size: 19-inch (Logo:

SOURCE Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc.