Following the death of the Australian ute market, automakers are trying to get our friends down under hooked on full-size pickups. Toyota is the latest company pushing its truck onto an unsuspecting populace. It's shipping over 300 Tundras and converting them to right-hand-drive for a pilot program. However, it's forbidding owners, who have paid for the trucks, to post about them on social media.
The news comes from Australia's Drive, which uncovered the rules for owners of the test vehicles in the "Tundra Insiders Program." Owners buying one of the 300 trucks must agree to let Toyota inspect them for any issues that might crop up, but they are also under stringent orders not to post about the trucks on social media or to let any media outlets review them.
In a letter to owners, Toyota says they must "avoid any comment about the Tundra on social media, and refrain from mentioning or discussing the lease agreement, or the Tundra itself, with any media outlets."
"Participants are prohibited from loaning their Tundra to any motoring press, other journalists or any influencers/bloggers for review or coverage purposes," it continues.
It's understandable that Toyota would want to check up on the trucks. Toyota has famously rigorous standards for quality, and Australia is an untested environment for the Tundra. The 300 trucks will be shipped as LHD vehicles, then converted to RHD by Walkinshaw Automotive Group, according to Drive. It's unknown whether factory-finish mirror-image dashboards and consoles even exist, of if these conversions will be a bit more cobbled together.
The social media blackout is a bit more peculiar. After all, as Drive points out, these trucks will be driven on public roads for all to see. Perhaps Toyota is wary of the message distortion that can often happen on such platforms. However, 300 trucks and all the people they come in contact with are a lot of people to corral, so we suspect some information will find its way out.
Australia was once unique in that it had a thriving market for utes, car-based unibody trucks like the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. We knew similar vehicles stateside as the Chevy El Camino, Ford Ranchero and Dodge Rampage but whereas they died out here in the 80s they continued well into the 21st century in Oz.
However, with the shuttering of GM's Holden and Ford's Australian manufacturing base, these vehicles went the way of the dodo. The topselling vehicles in Australia are the midsize Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger. So now the U.S. Big Three are stepping in to unleash 6,000-pound full-sizers on the Aussie market. The Chevy Silverado and Ram 1500 have already made landfall; the Ford F-150 is arriving soon. If Toyota's program proves positive, the Tundra could follow.
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