Toyota looks to shake things up in the pickup truck sector with the A-BAT, a gas-electric hybrid pickup truck that remains a close cousin to the Prius.­

Toyota

When you think of the word ­"hybrid," what kind of image pops into your head? Is it a small, sleek car that moves silently down the road, the type of tiny or mid-sized vehicle that most auto manufacturers design minimally, partly because of trends and partly because of fuel economy?

If you read about hybrid technology or have seen a hybrid vehicle driving down the road, then you know that these types of cars -- those with an electric motor and a gasoline engine inside -- are slightly smaller than most of the other cars you see every day. This is due to the fact that most manufacturers of hybrid vehicles really want to push the fuel efficiency angle in their design, and the less weight on a vehicle, the easier it is for the electric motor and gasoline engine to move it down the road.

So, chances are you probably weren't thinking of a pickup truck, were you? Although there have been a couple of attempts at introducing a hybrid truck concept into the auto market, including a hybrid version of the 2005 Silverado from General Motors, big trucks with an emphasis on fuel economy and hybrid technology simply aren't too visible.­

But Toyota, the same automaker behind the popular Prius hybrid car, has introduced a new hybrid truck called the Toyota A-BAT, which stands for "Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck." The interesting new hybrid truck was developed at Cal­ty, the company's research facility located in Newport Beach, California. The mention of the Toyota Prius should come as no surprise -- the A-BAT has a similar look and feel to its smaller cousin, and you'll find much of the same technology under the truck's hood.

­But, of course, the A-BAT has a slightly different function than the Prius. While the Prius is meant for the everyday commuter who uses a car to get from one place to the next, the A-BAT has the ability to carry heavy loads. This might be especially enticing to eco-minded homeowners who are looking for a vehicle that has the space necessary for certain home improvement projects. The added bonus is that the designers at Calty made the A-BAT with fuel economy and lower emissions in mind. This is the opposite of the image most people have in their heads when they think of the large utility vehicles currently on the road.

So what does Toyota have in store for the A-BAT? Read the next page to find out.

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