No Electric Toyota Tundra: Why Toyota’s Doubling Down on Internal Combustion

The 2022 Toyota Tundra is here. The automaker engineered a more powerful and efficient hybrid drivetrain for its redesigned truck, but is not offering a fully-electric Toyota Tundra. While Ford is manufacturing the budget-friendly F-150 Lightning and Chevy is developing the Ultium drivetrain, Toyota is doubling down on internal combustion. Toyota’s adherence to the old ways may be due to its status as the world’s largest auto manufacturer.

Instead of an electric Tundra, Toyota refining internal combustion

2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. Instead of an electric Toyota Tundra, the automaker engineered this TRD Pro with a next generation internal combustion powertrain: the i-FORCE MAX, a better bet for global markets than an EV | Toyota
2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Toyota

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There are currently hundreds of Toyota engine options offered worldwide. The manufacturer is striving to consolidate its considerable engine technology into just 17 powerplants. All new Toyota engines will belong to the Dynamic Force engine family. These next-gen combustion engines are as efficient as they are powerful.

Dynamic Force engines achieve high revolutions per minute and high compression (up to 14.0:1) through precise control over the combustion process. To achieve this precision, they leverage several existing Toyota technologies. For example, these technologies include VVT-iE, multi-hole direct injection, and high response intake air control.

In addition, the Dynamic Force engines improve fuel mileage by decreasing thermal inefficiency and pumping losses. For instance, they use low viscosity engine oil, a continuous variable-capacity oil pump, a variable cooling system, and a water jacket spacer.

The largest Dynamic Force engine is the 3.4-liter twin-turbocharged V6. This new V6 powers the third-generation Toyota Tundra. For the top-trim 2022 Toyota Tundra, the manufacturer added 48 horsepower and 104 lb-ft of torque to the combustion engine. Toyota created the additional power by sandwiching an electric motor between the internal combustion engine and transmission. The motor is powered by a nickel battery stowed beneath the rear seat. There will be no fully electric Toyota Tundra anytime soon.

The hybrid drivetrain offers unprecedented power and efficiency. But the hybrid Toyota Tundra is an internal combustion drivetrain, nonetheless. While most full-size truck manufacturers are unveiling fully electric prototypes, Toyota is refining combustion. Toyota’s dominance in automotive markets worldwide is the key to understanding this decision.

Global internal combustion sales will continue increasing

A driver for hire adjusts a Toyota truck's tire pressure for Saharan sand dunes in Oudane Mauritania. Instead of an electric Toyota Tundra, the world's largest automaker developed a next generation internal combustion drivetrain. | David Degner/Getty Images
Adjusting a Toyota truck’s tire pressure for Saharan sand dunes in Oudane, Mauritania | David Degner/Getty Images

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Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers are pledging to electrify their fleets. Norway has banned the sale of new internal combustion vehicles, effective in 2025. The European Union is voting on a union-wide internal combustion ban. Therefore, it may seem that the entire world is turning away from internal combustion. But the automotive market is much larger than North America and Europe.

The Insight Partners venture capital firm published a May 2021 report on the future of combustion. The firm argues that the rising population and increasing technological adoption in the developing world will fuel surging internal combustion sales through 2028. Therefore, the researchers predict that the internal combustion market will grow from $55,176 million in 2021 to $73,842 million in 2028.

Toyota is already seeing these predictions come true. For example, in 2020, Toyota’s global sales fell by 11.3%. But worldwide automotive sales fell 14%. During 2020, Toyota actually increased its sales in Asia and several other emerging markets. Consequently, Toyota overtook Volkswagen Group to yet again become the world’s largest automaker.

Much of the world is not ready for electric vehicles

A Toyota Land Cruiser loaded with passengers and luggage drives to the Niger city of Agadez. Instead of building an electric Toyota Tundra, the world's largest automaker engineered a next generation internal combustion drivetrain that will sell in the U.S. as well as markets such as Niger. | Markus Matzel via Getty Images
Toyota Land Cruiser FJ45 loaded with passengers and luggage drives to the Niger city of Agadez | Markus Matzel via Getty Images

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In the developed world, automakers cannot keep up with the demand for electric vehicles. This is partly because of the proliferation of chargers in urban areas. EVs are becoming a reliable, sustainable, and cheap transportation option. 

At the same time, many other parts of the world currently lack the infrastructure an electric fleet requires. Internal combustion engines still provide 25% of the world’s power. Running an internal combustion generator to power an electric vehicle is an inefficient use of resources. Yet much of the world still relies on generators for its electricity.

For most people on the planet, range and cost are critical aspects of vehicle purchases. For example, if driving long distances is a fact of daily life, EVs may not be an option. This may apply from Namibia to North Dakota. Furthermore, if the local electrical grid cannot support an EV, it does not matter how important sustainability might be to a consumer.

The world-over, Toyota has won the trust of consumers with reliable, efficient trucks and 4x4s. These have evolved from the Land Cruiser to the Hilux. Toyota’s reputation is as bulletproof as its vehicles. Even the Taliban prefer Toyota trucks.

Toyota’s decision to funnel engineering resources into a next-generation internal combustion truck may confuse many consumers in the U.S. and Europe. But Toyota is just doubling down on the global strategy that made it the world’s largest automaker. For the near future, at the least, this strategy appears to be a safe bet.

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