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Next Toyota Tundra could get heavy duty models

by Nat Shirley

Heavy-duty variants are under consideration for the next Tundra.

Toyota is grappling with several key issues as it begins to conceptualize the next-generation Tundra pickup.

Though the automaker is confident about its strategies for nearly every other vehicle segment, it's still trying to finalize its full-size pickup plans, with key questions being whether to expand into heavy duty trucks and how to meet upcoming fuel economy regulations.

"We have a pretty good idea about subcompact, about midsize, about near luxury (cars),” Paul Holdrige, Toyota Division vice president of sales, told Edmunds. "It is the pickup truck market that is the one that we are actively engaged in trying to make decisions strategically on where to go.

"We are working real hard trying to figure out what the CAFE regulations for 2018 are going to be because that will have a huge determination on what power plants (and) what alternative power plants we might have to put in the truck to participate in half-, 3/4 and the 1-ton truck market."

Toyota is currently developing a truck-focused hybrid system that could significantly increase the next Tundra's mileage. The company has also voiced interest in using a Cummins turbodiesel 5.0-liter V8, the same unit that will launch in the 2015 Nissan Titan; under the hood of a Tundra heavy duty, that mill could provide much greater efficiency than rival HDs while still producing respectable torque.

The redesigned Tundra isn't expected to launch until 2018 at the earliest. In the meantime, Toyota says it will give the current model, which debuted in 2007 and received a facelift this year, a series of upgrades to keep it fresh until the new pickup arrives.