Report: Toyota Looking to Make a Pickup From Corolla Sedans
Everything is on the table when it comes to automakers and pickup trucks. Ah, also EVs, but that’s another story. Anyway, Ford recently put a third shift online at its Maverick assembly line, which tells you it is selling much better than Ford’s initial optimistic guesstimates. Now, Toyota is looking at creating its own Maverick, or Hyundai Santa Cruz, from its stellar-selling Corolla.
When you look at Santa Cruz and Maverick sales numbers, they’re better than first thought. For Hyundai, it sold almost 40,000 last year. This year, it is beating those numbers, selling 23,000 from January through July.
As for the Maverick, it is also outpacing its 2022 performance. Being its first full year of production, the Mav hit almost 74,000 sold last year. In 2023, it is at 42,500 and gaining. There’s a chance it could hit 100,000 sales.
Why is Toyota wanting a Corolla pickup?
Once you get into that territory, other automakers start taking hard looks at the segment. That’s what Toyota is doing right now. And it is eyeing its Corolla as a potential Toyota unibody pickup offshoot. When you look at Corolla numbers, it all becomes clearer right away.
Though numbers vary, in most years, the Corolla snags over 300,000 sales. In the past couple of years, those numbers have dipped to around 225,000, but any way you look at it, the Corolla sells like crazy. So from a spinoff perspective, the development and tooling gets written down rather quickly.
Then, it’s all pretty much gravy. So if you produce a unibody pickup variant with the potential of hitting 100,000 sales and with three-quarters of development and tooling in the black, it becomes a no-brainer. In some ways, it’s puzzling that Toyota doesn’t build boats, UTVs, and lawnmowers from Corollas.
How feasible is a Corolla pickup truck?
Now, Automotive News is forecasting that Toyota is already working on just such a truck. But the reality of such a move is that it probably won’t see daylight until 2026 at the earliest. Yes, even with much of the tooling a part of the high-selling Corolla, it can take years before a shiny new vehicle hits the showrooms.
What makes this even more feasible is the chicken tax. Or rather, the lack of a chicken tax. Because the Corolla is already made in Mississippi. So configuring the assembly line for a variant isn’t a huge undertaking and eliminates the tax. And if Mississippi doesn’t work, don’t forget that the Corolla Cross is made next door in Alabama.
Can anything stop Toyota from developing a Corolla pickup?
There is also Toyota’s Compact Cruiser that is supposedly in the works. A pickup variant of this would be an easy companion to the Cruiser SUV. But there is more speculation since the Cruiser has supposedly been off the table once already.
Still, adding a compact Toyota pickup in North America would give the Japanese manufacturer something it has never had here. The only thing we see that puts this program in jeopardy is Toyota’s EV programs. It is taking billions to shift over to electrification, which means projects like a Corolla pickup might hit the back burner.