Ask Nathan: Electric Toyota Tundra, Defending The CVT And GM’s Woes?

Toyota A-BAT Concept.

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Will they build an electric Toyota Tundra?
  • You are defending CVTs!?
  • Is GM blowing it?

The first question comes from a fan that is wondering if an electric Toyota Tundra will be built.

Q: Hi @AskNathan — I want an electric Toyota Tundra! 

I was wondering since you have been covering all of the vehicles that are being built electric. If the electric Toyota Tundra will be built. Maybe that is why we are seeing Toyota take so long introducing the next Tundra. You know how Ford and Chevy are building electric F150s and Silverados? I think that Toyota might do something like this. Someone said Ram is doing it but I am not sure about that.

I think the Tundra is the best truck made and I do not think Toyota will build one that is less than its rivals.

Thank you TFL!

— Miguel from Waukegan, IL

Toyota A-BAT sketch (Image: Toyota)

A: Thanks for the email Miguel!

Toyota has a habit of being very quiet about new products. This is especially true of their upcoming electric vehicles. Toyota has been resistant to jump into the all-electric fray. Things have changed. Recently, at the Shanghai auto show, Toyota said it will bring hybrid (maybe PHEV) and battery-electric (BEV) powertrains to its truck lineup. That was it; nothing else was said for the moment.

What about an electric Toyota Tundra?

There are a few issues that Toyota will have to address, and (knowing them) they will probably wait to see how GM, Ford, Tesla and Rivian’s trucks turn out. The entirety of the Toyota brain trust tends to err on the side of caution. It’s my guess that they may follow a PHEV path before they go all-electric.

Right now, Toyota still leads the industry in hybrid production. They swear by it. Slowly, they have begun building PHEV products. It seems logical that they would pioneer one of the first PHEV full-size trucks – which may be similar to the setup the Jeep 4xe PHEV uses. Something like this may follow a Tundra hybrid’s debut – which is expected by many “insiders.” Remember: this is all conjecture on my part. I am basing this all on what Toyota is currently known for, and on some recent rumors.

Toyota A-BAT Concept

One other thing: while Ford led the way with an outstanding first effort with a hybrid full-size, hybrid pickup trucks have been around for a while. Just look at what GM used to offer with hybrid full-size trucks. With this in mind, Toyota will have to blow our socks off with whatever they decide to do. Will it be an electric Toyota Tundra? I don’t think so; at least, not right away.

Other options:

I included images of the 2008 Toyota A-BAT concept truck. To me, it’s still an outstanding idea – one that could make for an excellent electric pickup truck. You can read about, and see more images of the A-BAT (here). It was a super utilitarian, multi-configurable design that would put a Chevy Avalanche to shame.

I mean, if Toyota is serious about an all-electric pickup, or a hydrogen setup of some sort, why not use this setup?

It will be interesting to see what happens.

– N

The next question comes from a viewer who feels that all CVTs are made the same. They are not.

Image: Honda

Q: (Via Twitter @NathanAdlen) Oh Nathan! I caught you defending the CVT on your 2022 Honda Civic video!

I thought you hated all CVTs. You always mention them for Nissan, and Honda has the same thing and you never mention that point! I wonder why?

— Gess3Monkey

A: Nissan and Honda do NOT have the same CVT.

Automakers like Honda and Toyota build their continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in house. Nissan uses Jatco, which they own a controlling interest in. While the Jatco CVTs have improved, they have a poor reputation for reliability stemming from issues that started over a decade back.

Toyota and Honda have a much better reputation for reliability of their CVTs.

Also: I am not opposed to CVTs on economy cars. The continuously variable transmission has a lot going for it, when you look at economy. They tend to be much lighter than regular transmissions, and they have fewer moving parts. CVTs are inherently built for efficiency, and they are cheaper to produce.

My issue usually is, when automakers try to sell me on a car’s performance, or “fun” personality, and it has a CVT, I’m often disappointed. They usually sap the fun out of vehicles, making them kind of boring to drive.

— N

The last question comes from a assistant manager from Discount Tire who recognized me recently. He (we’ll call him “Chuck”) thinks GM is in trouble.

Q: (Via: a conversation at Discount Tire) Do you think GM is winning, or blowing it?

Take the Blazer for example. Man, they totally messed up on that one. Now they want to make everything electric! I think they are blowing it.

(Extrapolated from Chuck, the tire dude.)

A: It’s a mixed bag with General Motors.

It’s a funny thing. I agree about the Blazer being misplaced in GM’s new stable. It should have been called something else. When you look at what Ford did wit the Bronco name, and what they will do, GM missed their opportunity. Still, I actually like the Chevrolet Trailblazer, but I think its name is a bit off as well.

GM fans will point out that they successfully revived the Hummer brand name, and new “class-leading” products will follow. I also agree with that point. It’s a shame that the GMC Hummer products will be so pricy, but the tech will filter down to less expensive vehicles soon.

Finally, while they did announce that they will be all-electric by 2035. That’s still a ways out, and they need to sell the best internal combustion engine vehicles that they can. I say, let’s give them a chance and see what they come up with over the next few years.

— N

Speaking GM’s electric vehicles…