A patent application filed by Toyota with the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals the Japanese automaker is investigating the idea of an electrically-assisted body-on-frame offroader.
The application doesn’t show any specific model, but silhouettes used in illustrations indicate a wagon bodystyle with a three-row seat configuration. That narrows the list of potential candidates down to five – the Hilux-based Toyota Fortuner, the Prado and the 200-series Landcruiser, plus the US-market 4Runner and Sequoia.
The Kluger’s carlike monocoque chassis is different to the ladder-frame architecture beneath the other three, and is more akin to the RAV4.
A hybrid off-roader would be new territory for Toyota, though the carmaker has dipped its toe in the water before with the A-BAT concept ute of 2010.The patent filing gives few clues away as to whether the system would be paired with a petrol or diesel powerplant, however given Toyota’s lack of experience with diesel-electric hybrids the former is the most likely.
As for the patent itself, it simply details how a high-voltage hybrid battery pack (labelled 70 in the top two images) would be housed in a ladder-framed wagon. Sitting in a metal tub sandwiched between the third row and the spare wheel, the battery would be nestled between the left and right chassis ‘rails’ and be framed by a pair of crossmembers.
The language used is broad, and refers to not only conventional hybrids but plug-in hybrids and fully-electric vehicles as well.
Does it necessarily indicate Toyota is planning any of them for its future off-roader portfolio? Not necessarily, but patenting the technology is one of the first steps a company takes when introducing a new vehicle.