Posts Tagged ‘pickup trucks’

The 2016 Toyota Tacoma Has Not Lost Its Touch

Posted by Stephen On Monday, January 11th, 2016

Something’s happened to the pickup truck market in the US. They used to be rugged, bare-bones, powerful machines that can get a job done. When you look at what’s on the market, are you left scratching your head? You should be – what we see today is not what should be there.

Instead, we see expensive, high-riding, luxury vehicles built for consumers who won’t carry anything more than a couple of groceries in an oversized bed. OK, that last statement might be a little biased. At any rate, pickup trucks are not what they used to be.

(Which may have many outside the US scratching their heads as to how a utilitarian vehicle like a truck can make the leap to being a luxury vehicle. It certainly is rather odd.)

It’s a nice breath of fresh air to find out the 2016 Toyota Tacoma has not lost touch with the roots of pickup truck history. About the only other truck that hasn’t done that is the bare-bones, commercial-grade Ford F150.

Don’t get me wrong, the truck still looks sleek. On the outside, it looks just like every other luxury pickup truck you might see in any car lot. When you look under the hood, that’s where you see that the Toyota Tacoma has not lost touch with what made pickups such great vehicles.

The Toyota TRD Sport Double Cab reviewed outfitted with four-wheel-drive, brake assist technology, 17-inch alloys, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and a 7-inch touch-screen with navigation. It’s nice to see that they still include a tow package and the tonneau bed cover.

Don’t worry, it can still compete with everyone else – especially with the Premium and Technology Package for an additional $2360. This adds dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, a moonroof, automatic headlamps and blind spot monitoring.

Now, this is still a midsize pickup, which means that it has a V-6 engine, not a V-8. Still, it still packs 278 hp and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. It doesn’t do much when you compare it to a V-8, but for Toyota’s smallest truck, it packs more than enough heat to meet the mark.

The interior is still lined with rental-grade plastics and cloth seats with the classic zigzag pattern. Like we said, it’s not a $40,000 luxury truck. However, it is an honest truck that will still bounce with every bump on the road – and that’s just the way you like it.


Nissan Makes Its Own Niche with The New Nissan Titan XD

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

Nissan has never made it a priority of theirs to go head-to-head against some of the full-size trucks that lead the industry such as Ford, Chevy, Toyota or Dodge. They’ve always been a little more consumer-based.

They decided to make their own niche with their US-market 2016 Nissan Titan. It is a heavier duty truck than the light-duty everyday pickups, the smaller and more fuel-efficient than the heavy-duty work trucks.

The new truck is 20 feet long, powered by a 5 L V-8 Cummins Turbo diesel rated at 310 hp and 555-pound feet of torque. It will tow up to 12,000 pounds which is said to be more than the F150 from Ford, the Silverado from Chevy, the Ram 1500 from Dodge, or Toyotas Tundra. It’s a big truck – it feels like you need to use a ladder just to get to the drivers seat. Yet, oddly enough, this is a midsize pickup.

The inside felt very different. It’s like this strange mix between a Toyota Camry and a GMC Cadillac. Either way, and felt luxurious and high-end with the seat warmers, seat coolers and plenty of cup holders. The around view Monitor projects a 360° panoramic of the truck surroundings. It makes parking a whole lot easier. The suspension system makes city driving feel as if you are driving a four-door coupe. The higher speeds on the freeway don’t jolt it either. It’s steady and holds its own.

This is the third truck Nissan has made, joining the ranks of the Nissan Frontier and the other Nissan Titans that are not of the XD variety. The way Nissan describes it is that this truck is neither a “beefed-up half ton now a watered-down three-quarter ton.”

Nissan is up against the Ford F150 whether they like it or not. The Ford F150 has been the country’s best-selling vehicle for a long time. Note that I said best-selling vehicle – not just a best-selling truck. To compete, the Titan XD is designed to be good for the daily driver, useful for the construction worker carrying a load, and suitable for the weekend warrior towing a boat or a horse trailer. It comes fully equipped with a trailer brake controller, trailer sway control, trailer light check system and downhill speed control.

Right now, the truck hasn’t been officially released – what is notable is that it is a diesel version. Nissan intends on releasing a 5.6 L V-8 gas engine by mid-2016. This will pack 390 hp and 401-pound feet of torque. Further down the road, there looking into a V-6 option. The V-8 will come equipped with a seven-speed automatic transmission. When it is released, it will be available in a single, crew cab, King cab and off-road Pro-4X versions.

No official price has been determined yet, but it is expected that the Titan XD will begin just above $41,000 at a base price and the Platinum Reserve 4 X 4 crew cab with all the trimmings rising up to $61,000. The current entry level Titan starts at just under $30,000.


Toyota is World’s Most Valuable Auto Brand in 2015

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

toyota logo

Every year, Brandz publishes their Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study. This year, Japanese automaker Toyota remains king of the hill as the undisputed most valuable automotive brand. According to the report, Toyota boasts a brand value of $28.9 billion, which puts them at the 30th most valuable brand overall.

The news honestly doesn’t come as too much of a surprise for Toyota. Just earlier this month, they published their May sales reports, which specifically highlighted the success of their light trucks. The press release stated, “Strong May results boosted the industry to the best sales pace since last summer. Toyota Division light trucks reported a best ever May, helping Toyota to over 200,000 units for the month.”

The sales report goes on to specify that May sales are up 13.4% for light trucks, which is a May record. Narrowing down even further, they say that Tacoma and Tundra pickup sales exceeded 29,000 units, which is a 15.4% increase over the year before. The Highlander managed to do even better, with an enormous 25.2% sales growth compared to the previous year… Probably due to the significant decrease in gas prices.

Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, is also doing exceptionally well this time of year, particularly their new utility vehicles. Lexus’ VP and general manager report that demand for Lexus’ premium utility vehicles has grown to 48% of total sales volume, up from 43% during the same time last year. He attributes the growth to “the momentum provided by […] growing consumer awareness of our newer models, such as the NX crossover and RC coupe.”

Going back to the Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2015 report, it appears that the automotive industry is ruled by three powerhouses. Toyota sits at the top with a $28.9 billion valuation, BMW is number two at $26.3 billion, and Mercedes-Benz pulls up third with an estimated value of $21.7 billion. Then, there is a significant jump down to spot number four which is held by the $13.3 billion Honda. Ford ekes in at fifth with $13.1 billion, Nissan takes sixth with $11.4 billion, then Audi at $10.1 billion (a 41% increase from last year!), VW at $9.2 billion, Land Rover at $4.9 billion and Lexus at $4.3 billion.

Yes, that means that Toyota is the number one automotive brand WITHOUT counting the value of their luxury arm.

Even though the automotive industry’s value grew 3% as a whole from 2014 to 2015, that’s a significant decrease from the 17% value increase that took place from 2013 to 2014. The Brandz study noted that carmakers in 2015 and onward “face a paradoxical dilemma: their product quality is better than ever, but their brands are increasingly difficult to differentiate.” With that in mind, it’s no wonder that Toyota sits on top since they have arguably the most consumer trust… As long as the biggest perceived difference between automakers is reliability, not features, then there’s no doubt Toyota will remain on top.


2016 Toyota HiLux is Better in Every Way

Posted by Stephen On Friday, May 22nd, 2015

2016 Toyota Hilux blue

After a whole bunch of spyshots and some very revealing unofficial spoilers (plus an accident involving a trailer carrying two brand-new 2016 models for debut), Toyota has finally unveiled the official all-new 2016 Toyota HiLux – the eight-generation model for the 47 year-old pickup.

2016 Toyota Hilux

If you’re reading this in the US, chances are that you’ve never heard of the Toyota HiLux pickup truck… That’s because it’s not sold in the States. But, it’s one of Toyota’s most well-known and beloved models in other markets, like Australia and Thailand.

The old Toyota HiLux has been on the market in its current form for at least a decade. The new model is better in literally every way. It’s bigger, it looks better, it’s more fun to drive, it can hold and tow a lot more weight, it’s more efficient, it’s got a larger cabin and it even holds more gas with a massive 80L fuel tank.

2016 Toyota Hilux rear

Under the hood, Toyota says that they’ve expanded the model’s “legendary prowess” with a substantially stronger frame, two new high-torque turbocharged diesel engines (expanding the powertrain options to four) and improved body rigidity for better on-Road toughness and improved steering response. Toyota has used high-tensile steel to keep the truck agile without sacrificing strength and toughness.

2016 Toyota Hilux interior

As for those two new engines, Toyota says that the turbo-diesels are “notable for their low-end punch and develop substantially more torque than the current model’s 3.0L unit”. This is especially impressive since both new engines are of a smaller displacement than the outgoing model. One is a 2.4L outputting 400 Nm, the other is a 2.8L outputting 450 Nm of torque, while both plants have about 10% improved fuel economy. Depending on which engine and trim you go with, Toyota says the new HiLux’s towing capacity has increased up to 3.5 tonnes (~7,700 lbs) and 1,240 kg (~2,700 lbs).

2016 Toyota Hilux interior dash

Inside the cabin, Toyota’s goal was to make the new HiLux feel more like an SUV than a pickup without sacrificing the model’s rugged, simple cabin appeal. You’ll find that the larger eighth-gen model has allowed Toyota to create a much more spacious and comfortable cab, with more room for all occupants, luxury seating, and better quality materials used throughout. They’ve also updated the interior to match the conventional tech. amenities found in today’s most popular SUVs, including a crisp audio system and a massive, vibrant multi-touch control screen.

Toyota says that we can expect the 2016 HiLux model in showrooms in early October. You can read the full press release here for more information.


Japanese Car Auction Find – 2006 Toyota Hilux Surf

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Yesterday we got our first unofficial peak at the eighth-generation Toyota Hilux pickup truck which is set to go on sale sometime in the next few months. Although the Hilux pickup hasn’t been available in Japan for quite some time, the Hilux Surf SUV was sold there from 2002 to 2009. Today we’re looking at a 2006 Toyota Hilux Surf SSR-X Limited model.

2006 Toyota Hilux Surf

Just to set the record straight, the Toyota Hilux Surf is basically the Japanese version of the Toyota 4Runner. The only difference is that the Hilux Surf has a side-opening tailgate whereas the 4Runner’s tailgate lifts up from the bottom (at least it did in this generation of production). Otherwise, both cars run on the same double wishbone front suspension and solid rear axle for extra durability. This is in stark contrast to the Toyota Highlander – a similar size crossover that isn’t really intended for off-road use. The Hilux Surf is certainly off-road friendly.

It’s also worth noting that as a Limited model, this Hilux Surf would have come with Toyota’s new suspension technology that debuted in this generation – the X-Relative Absorber System (X-REAS) – which dramatically reduces body roll during intense cornering.

2006 Toyota Hilux Surf rear

Under the hood, the auction sheet shown at the bottom of this post tells us that this Hilux Surf is powered by a 2.7L engine. After digging around for some JDM manufacturer specs, we found that this particular engine offers 160 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. Not too shabby, although it should be noted that other Hilux Surf models have engines up to 4.0L in displacement if you want more ‘oomph’.

2006 Toyota Hilux Surf interior

Inside, the Hilux Surf has decent cabin amenities like automatic climate control, remote keyless entry and a color DVD-based infotainment/navigation system paired up with a 10-speaker JBL sound system. However, what really sets it apart is the sheer space offered in the cabin. Looking at the pictures from the auction find, you can see the driver here has enough room to almost fully recline in the front seat! And you’ll sit extremely comfortably thanks to power driver’s lumbar support and a tilting telescopic steering wheel.

On the whole, this is a great Japanese car auction find with an overall rating of 4. The gleaming chrome alloys that you can easily make out in the pictures above are definitely our favorite part. Just like the 4Runner, the Hilux Surf is widely regarded as an easy-to-drive SUV that does exactly what it says on the box. It’s the perfect mix of reliability, comfort and utility. To learn more, you can get a full translation of the specs below the auction sheet:

2006 Toyota Hilux Surf auction sheet

“Interior B, first registered March 2006, SSR-X LTD model, CBA emissions code, FAT, AAC, gasoline engine, AM HDD navigation system, digital TV, Dolce 20 inch alloy wheels, roof rail, 2 x keyless entry keys, power steering, power windows, ABS< airbag, fog lights, floor mats, visors, keyless entry, spare key, front windscreen scratches, interior grime, wheel arch flares scratches, side steps scratches and dents, rust underneath, minor scratches and minor dents, marks as per map"


Next-Gen 2016 Toyota Hilux Spied Ahead Official Launch

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Toyota Hilux spy shot profile

For at least the past year, we’ve been hearing rumors that Toyota wants to launch an all-new eighth-generation model of their Toyota Hilux pickup. Today, we finally have confirmation (albeit unofficial confirmation) that the 2016 Toyota Hilux, which should go on sale anytime now, will be the model to get the next-gen treatment. The news is confirmed by the spy shots seen in this post, which were originally posted on a Spanish automotive Facebook page called Terranismo.

To us, these leaked images confirm that the 2016 Toyota Hilux will be an all-new pickup rebuilt from the ground up. The model seen here is clearly in line with Toyota’s semi-recently overhauled design language. The front-end clearly boasts the most changes…

Toyota Hilux spy shot

From these pictures, we can make out new, thinner headlights (similar to the 2016 Tacoma) and a substantially restyled chrome grille. In fact, Toyota has added more chrome throughout the rest of the exterior too, from the door handles to the newly designed alloy wheels to the mirror caps.

In addition, the Hilux’s exterior is generally more muscular and looks to be slightly longer than the outgoing model. We expect that the extra length may indicate Toyota’s attention to a more spacious interior, which is what we’re going to talk about next.

Toyota Hilux spy shot interior

Inside, we only have one blurry picture of the front dash to work with. However, from that one picture we can see that Toyota has likely put even more attention into the cabin than they did into the body. That huge touchscreen you see on the center console indicates that the 2016 Toyota Hilux will offer drivers a much more comfortable and car-like interior… One that’s not nearly as utilitarian as the decade-old outgoing model.

In fact, if you look closely, the touchscreen almost looks detachable from the dash. This could indicate a new tech. feature, or it could just mean that this is a picture of an early model that hasn’t had the touchscreen fully integrated yet. Either way, we’re excited for this new compact pickup truck to hit the market… It’ll be available everywhere except the US, Canada and Japan (and Korea).

Toyota Hilux spy shot under wraps

Oh, and while we don’t have any actual pictures of what lies beneath the hood of this silver off-road beast, Terranismo reports that the truck will be offered with at least three engine options at launch. Interestingly, all of them are diesel-powered. The smallest is a 2.4L turbocharged diesel that outputs 148 hp. You will also be able to get the 2.4L tuned up to 165 hp, presumably as a more expensive trim option. Then, the top of the line will get a 2.8L single turbocharged diesel with 175 horsepower and a lot more torque. Terranismo also hints that a twin-turbo version of the 2.8L could come as a variant, but that it likely won’t be available for 2016.


Isuzu D-Max Blade Pickup is Here to Stay

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

2015 Isuzu D-Max Blade Pearlescent White

In 2014, Isuzu introduced a special edition version of their D-Max pickup truck called the D-Max Blade. The truck launched with the tagline “Even nightmare jobs are no match for a pick up professional,” which makes a lot more sense after you watch the intro video below:

The tagline isn’t really relevant to today’s article, but we really liked that little short and have been looking for an opportunity to get it into a blog post since the special edition truck made its debut at the end of last year. So, there you go.

The Isuzu D-Max Blade was a huge success for the small Japanese automaker, Isuzu. In fact, it was enough to set a sales record for the 2014 model year – they managed to sell a full 5,500 units last year, and had to build twice as many D-Max Blades as planned to satisfy customer demand. So, they’re listening to demand in 2015 and beyond… The D-Max Blade will now be a permanent addition to Isuzu’s UK lineup, with deliveries starting later this month.

Even without the special Blade edition, the D-Max is a great truck. It doesn’t have the biggest engine in the world with a twin-turbocharged 2.5L diesel under the hood which only outputs 160 horsepower. However, don’t let the low power fool you – with 295 lb-ft of torque, this truck can tow a full 3.5 metric tons, which is about 3.8 short tons for our US readers. If it’s hauling you need, the D-Max can handle up to 2,345 lbs.

2015 Isuzu D-Max Blade Cosmic Black

On top of that, the D-Max gets excellent fuel economy with a manufacturer estimated 38.7 mpg combined. Four-wheel drive is standard, and the powertrain can be mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic for a bit extra

The D-Max Blade is set apart by the unique ‘Shadow’ style front grille, the black mirror caps and door handles, and of course you can’t miss those 18” ‘Shadow” alloy wheels fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Zero tires. The Blade is available in either Cosmic Black or Pearlescent White.

2015 Isuzu D-Max Blade interior

The interior is even better with Blade-only piano black accents, bespoke scuff plates, a 6.1” Pioneer touchscreen, a booming 8-speaker audio system, and of course the rear backup camera. You’ll also get built-in satellite GPS, heated leather seats and special Blade floor mats.

All in all, we love to see smaller Japanese car makers finding success with innovative offerings. The Isuzu D-Max Blade isn’t the biggest or the strongest pickup in the world, but it’s the perfect example of an automaker giving customers what they want. We hope the Blade continues to boost Isuzu sales in 2015 and beyond, but sadly the model will only be sold in the UK.


Detroit Debut of 2016 Nissan Titan & Toyota Tacoma

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

To wrap up our coverage for the 2015 Detroit Motor Show, we’re going to showcase the two new Japanese pickup trucks that hit the stage at the event.

2016 Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma

There’s no doubt that the old Toyota Tacoma was a truly impressive vehicle. It’s been on the market in its current form for over a decade, and yet it claimed a full 66% market share in 2014. However, while that’s certainly an impressive stat, Toyota knows that a big reason they’ve sold that many of their aging Tacoma trucks is due to a lack of competition. This year, that’s changed as GM has re-entered the compact pickup scene with two brand-new models.

Now, Toyota is updating their mighty Tacoma to maintain its status as the best pound-for-pound pickup in its class. Toyota says that the new 2016 Tacoma is the most powerful and fuel-efficient Tacoma ever… The ultimate lifestyle vehicle for today’s most active drivers.

2016 Toyota Tacoma on the road

With the Tacoma’s debut, Toyota revealed specific powertrain specs we’d been waiting for. The new compact pickup will offer drivers a choice between a 2.7L four-cylinder or a 3.5L Atkinson cycle V6, both of which will deliver power to the wheels via an off-road-ready six-speed automatic transmission.

But, the powertrains won’t be the only distinguishing factor between the Tacoma and its new American competition. Toyota has unleashed a bevy of new technology in the Tacoma to make it stand out from the crowd.

2016 Toyota Tacoma rear view

For example, this will be the first compact pickup ever to have what Toyota calls “crawl control”, which basically allows the truck to take over acceleration and braking while the driver devotes their undivided attention to steering through rough terrain.

Another new technology is the Tacoma’s multi-terrain system, which allows optimal throttle and brake responses depending on the specific off-road terrain you’re driving on. There are modes for rocks, mud and sand.

2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited

Finally, since there’s only so much aesthetic appeal that can be designed into a truck, Toyota has made sure theirs has an interior that truly stands out. From the new sound-absorbing materials in the roof and floor to the GoPro camera mount on the rearview mirror, every minute detail of the Tacoma’s interior serves a purpose, whether that be for fun, comfort or utility.

2016 Nissan Titan XD

2016 Nissan Titan XD

Moving up a weight class, the 2016 Nissan Titan is arguably just as impressive as the new Tacoma. Powered by a Cummins turbocharged 5.0L direct-injection V8 diesel, the new Titan XD will offer a hefty 310hp and 555 lb-ft of torque – enough to make this behemoth one of only two half-ton diesels on the market. The other is Ram’s EcoDiesel, which, as you can probably infer from the name, doesn’t offer near the same ‘oomph’ as Nissan’s new Cummins-powered pickup will.

2016 Nissan Titan XD woods

As you can see, the new 2016 Titan XD features a very rugged design with and an enormous front-end and eye-catching alloys.

2016 Nissan Titan XD interior

The interior is where things have really stepped up, though, with Nissan’s new NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats, a 12-speaker surround sound system from Rockford Fosgate, and of course Nissan’s latest Nissan Connect infotainment technology. You’ll also get standard safety features like Around View Monitor, rear-view display, and moving object detection.

All in all, both pickups look to be slated for success, but we’ll have to wait until later in 2015 to get full details on both models as neither automaker revealed fuel economy numbers or pricing.


Next-Generation Toyota Tacoma Coming to Detroit Auto Show

Posted by Stephen On Friday, December 5th, 2014

The auto industry is so predictable sometimes. The 2014 LA Auto Show is barely out the door and we’re already getting news for the next major event in NA – the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in January. But, hey, we’re not complaining! Today we learned that Toyota’s first major premiere at the NAIAS will be the next-gen Toyota Tacoma.

2014 Toyota Tacoma

The current generation of the Toyota Tacoma has been on the market since 2004. So, it will be a full 11 years-old, which is veritably ancient in the automotive world. However, the first-generation lasted for nine years, so it seems that the Japanese automaker knows exactly how often they want to update their small pickup truck.

There’s no doubt that the current Tacoma needs an update, though. Even though it still leads the segment with a 66% market share, its growth has substantially slowed over the past few years to a 4.7% loss in 2014, although segment-wide sales aren’t much better. What’s more, Toyota isn’t just introducing a new Taco’ model; they’re also ramping up production of the pickup at their Baja California, Mexico manufacturing plant.

Toyota’s Senior VP of US Sales, Bob Carter, offered an explanation for the manufacturing increase to AN. He said that Toyota dealers all over the country have been requesting more of their small pickups, which leads him to believe that there is more to the market than the current segment sales would imply. He also believes that the cornucopia of new competitors coming to the niche in the form of the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado, along with a new Honda Ridgeline planned for next year, only spell success for their investment and the segment overall.

Unfortunately, with all this talk of the small pickup market and the state of the current Tacoma, Toyota didn’t say very much about the next-generation model. All we know is that it will be a very, very big overhaul. And we know that production of the Tacoma is set to increase in April 2015, so that’s probably about when the new model will hit dealership floors.

2014 Lexus LF-C2 Concept LA auto show

Along with the Toyota Tacoma announcement, executives also revealed that Lexus will bring two new performance models to the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Our guess is that at least one of them will be a second iteration of the Lexus LF-C2 Concept we saw last month, but Carter was adamantly silent on any possible hints.


This is Sparky – The Nissan Leaf Pickup You’ll Never Drive

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, September 20th, 2014

What do you get when you cross a Nissan Leaf with a pickup truck?

Sparky Nissan Leaf Pickup

Nissan has a unique way of approaching corporate team-building exercises. Where most companies might build a bike, Nissan’s engineers build a car. That car is Sparky the all-electric ute (utility coupe), a green car that’s used as a parts hauler at Nissan’s Reliability Group in Stanfield, Arizona. Although this cool little car probably won’t ever become commercially available, it’s too cool not to cover.

Nissan Sparky with Reliability Group engineers

In case it’s not obvious from the front-end, this eco-friendly cargo hauler started life as a conventional Nissan Leaf. It’s the brainchild of Rolland Schellenberg and Arnold Moulinet, two head durability and reliability engineers at the expansive Stanfield premises. It started when Moulinet had to kill two birds with one stone – he needed a team-building project and a small truck to haul parts around the Reliability Group’s sprawling campus. He instantly thought of a Leaf pickup, and after a bit of research with Mr. Schellenberg, he knew it could be done.

To build Sparky, the engineers took the body of a Nissan Leaf and fused it with the cab of a Titan and the bed of a Frontier. The project took several months, not made any shorter by the fact that neither engineer held back on the bells and whistles. In the video at the bottom of this post, you’ll see how they added a power rear-window to the back of the cab and woody-style beams along the truck’s bed.

Sparky Nissan Leaf Pickup rear view

On top of that, Sparky is fully wired with head- and taillights, and has a surprisingly stylish finish with a voluptuous rear-end and distinct rear spoiler.

Apparently, Schellenberg and the rest of Nissan’s humble engineers actually wanted to keep their creation a secret, but visitors to the Stanfield center had other ideas. “We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody. But we have visitors and they come and they see that track and they go straight to ‘What is it?’”

For those of you food like to create your own version of Sparky the Leaf-based ute, all you have to do is spend years in the field of rough-road vehicle testing. Moulinet explained that his “main job here is working on rough-road vehicles … I’m pretty good at taking cars completely apart the bare frame and putting them back together again to resume testing.”

To hear the full story of how Sparky came to be, watch the video below: