Toyota has started development of a replacement for its venerable 70 Series workhorse, which celebrates its 30th birthday next year.
Much like Land Rover’s Defender and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, the 70 Series has become an iconic commercial vehicle after decades on sale in various guises, including ute, wagon and TroopCarrier derivatives.
Most recently, Toyota developed a dual-cab version
, with the LC79 arriving in September 2012 as part of a range-wide upgrade that finally brought anti-lock brakes (ABS) to a package that has remained virtually unchanged since 1984.
Last year’s upgrade was widely expected to be the last for the 70 Series, with tightening safety and emissions requirements leading Toyota to reveal the model will likely be killed off
before strict new Euro 5 emissions standards come into force in Australia in 2016.
In fact, Toyota has admitted it would never have invested in the development of the LC79 twin-cab had it known in May 2012 that mining giant BHP Billiton was preparing to mandate a five-star ANCAP safety rating for its fleet vehicles on OHS grounds.
Like Nissan’s Patrol ute, the 70 Series remains a three-star vehicle, but there are hopes the 70 Series can be reclassified as a truck – and therefore exempt from BHP’s five-star fleet vehicle requirement.
Toyota has stated the 70 Series, which was fitted with twin front airbags in 2009 but remains unavailable with traction or stability control, will never be upgraded to achieve a five-star safety rating.
All light commercial vehicles purchased by the Australian government have been required to have a four-star safety rating since July 2012.
Nevertheless, Australia remains one of the world’s top three destinations for the 70 Series, alongside the Middle East and South Africa, attracting about 6500 sales a month globally.
Last year almost 8000 utility examples were sold here and so far this year Toyota has shifted about 6700 – not counting LC78 two-door or LC76 four-door wagon versions – with most going to miners and farmers.
Now, contrary to previous reports, it has emerged an all-new successor is being developed for the 70 Series.
Speaking at the Australian launch of the facelifted 150 Series LandCruiser Prado, chief engineer Sadayoshi Koyari – who is also the chief engineer for the 70 and 200 Series LandCruisers – said a 70 Series replacement was “under study”.
Toyota Australia Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, Tony Cramb, confirmed to motoring.com.au that preliminary work has begun on a 70 Series successor, but would not reveal timing.
“A new 70 Series is seriously under consideration right now,” he said, before cautioning that no redesigned model had yet been locked in.
“Smarter people than me are investigating whether it’s worth the development of a new 70 Series. With a more capable HiLux coming, what does it need to be and how many would we sell?”
Land Rover is understood to have locked in a replacement for its time-honoured Defender, which dates back to 1948 and will cease production in December 2015 after a continuous production run of 67 years.
Read the latest news and reviews on your mobile, iPhone or PDA at carsales' mobile site...
Don't forget to register to comment on this article.