TORONTO—Mike Sweers, chief engineer of Toyota pickup trucks, still runs an active hay farm in Northern Michigan and used his experience as a farmer to inform his design of the new 2014 Tundra full-size pickup.
“I have a Tundra Double Cab with an eight-foot long bed that I use on the farm all the time,” Sweers said. “Daily hard driving of the truck allowed the farm to become a personal proving ground for my own development research on the new Tundra.”
Engineering discussions began early at the sketch level as they strived for a bold exterior design from the very start. As sketches were modified, computer-aided-design (CAD) verified the early designs’ stamping feasibility on the fly, a process that was much quicker than in the past.
Sweers and his team also had a vision where each Tundra grade would be unique. Research showed customers want their trucks to look different and reflect their individuality.
The final design resulted in a powerful exterior to embody the Tundra’s performance capabilities. The front design featured a bold front end with a higher hood line that is integrated into the grille for a chiseled and modern industrial image.
Sweers’ own experiences with damaged bumpers on the farm led to the design of three-piece front- and rear-lower bumpers, allowing for lower replacement costs. Fenders and wheel wells have been squared-off for a wide and sturdy stance. A new bed and tail gate has an integrated spoiler and “TUNDRA” stamped into the sheet metal, creating a one-piece forged look. The redesigned tail lamps express a tool-like quality to match the appearance of the body.
“Our goal was to make a truck that is more traditional, more chiseled and emphasizes the outstanding power and performance of the truck,” Sweers said. “The final product is actually very close to the original sketch. It is a very polarizing design, and one that I would want!”
Key interior design elements include a new front dash with a center stack that was moved 2.6-in. closer to the driver. The slide and recline of the rear seat on the CrewMax grade now folds up for additional interior storage. Refinement was a top priority as all Tundra grades were designed with newly structured seats and premium leathers and fabrics for more comfort and eye appeal.
Toyota’s newest generation audio system with an all new interface, a standard backup camera, a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic alert are all available starting in 2014.
The new Tundra design, which began in the summer of 2010, stemmed from Toyota Technical Center (TTC) engineering, Calty designers and a team at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas. Sweers and his engineering team worked closely with Calty Design Research, Inc., President Kevin Hunter and his design teams at Toyota’s design centers in Newport Beach, Calif., and Ann Arbor, Mich.