Toyota Motor Corp. is preparing to launch a series of trucks using composites for at least part of the bed, beginning with the introduction of the Tacoma X-Runner.
The company downplayed the use of composites in its introduction of the vehicle Feb. 4 at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show, but the truck does mark the first public display of a range of vehicles using plastics in the bed.
Production on the 2005 Tacomas is to begin later this year. ThyssenKrupp Automotive AG's plastics division - formerly called Budd Co. - has built a plant in Tijuana, Mexico, to make inner truck beds for Toyota from sheet molding compound.
Toyota has not said whether the truck will use composites for exterior panels.
Toyota's adoption of SMC will mark an expansion of composites in pickup beds. Ford Motor Co. of Dearborn, Mich., uses SMC for the bed of its Explorer Sport Trac.
General Motors Corp. uses mostly reinforced reaction injection molding for the beds of its Chevrolet Avalanche and Escalade EXT trucks.
GM briefly offered composite truck boxes as an option on Silverado models, but has canceled that program.