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The Toyota Tacoma's In-Dash Speaker Is an Industry First

JBL is deploying solid-state batteries now (in a limited fashion)

2024 Toyota Tacoma with built-in JBL bluetooth speaker
  • The 2024 Toyota Tacoma includes an optional JBL audio system with an in-dash speaker.
  • By using a solid-state battery, the Bluetooth speaker can withstand sun and heat.
  • This is the first speaker that functions both separately and with the car system.

Toyota has a lot to celebrate with its all-new 2024 Tacoma, which replaces the previous generation’s styling and V6 engine after eight years on the market. Now drawn by Toyota’s design house Calty like its full-size sibling, the Tundra, the Tacoma debuts a muscular frame and a new turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. While the hottest latest news is the official launch of the i-Force Max hybrid powertrain — which brings 278 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque to the party — a different feature caught our eye during the press drive for the new TRD Pro. That would be the 10-speaker JBL audio system with a removable Bluetooth speaker.

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2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Terra exterior front three-quarter

When connected to the truck, the speaker functions as a center channel. When disconnected, the speaker functions as a full-range speaker. The DSP (digital sound processing) has two separate equalizers that swap back and forth when the charging port is disconnected from the car dock so that it works in and out of the truck.

Tacoma chief engineer Sheldon Brown was instrumental in encouraging the development of this setup, but he's modest about his role. Brown was also the driver behind keeping a manual transmission option for Tacoma buyers and he’s an enthusiast himself. Working closely with Harman International, which owns JBL, the engineering team came up with a way to not just provide a portable Bluetooth speaker, but one that integrates into the dash.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro off-roading

Senior Global Marketing Manager for Harman Automotive Kyle Roche says the Tacoma has the first speaker that functions with the car system, mentioning that Rivian’s portable speaker only works externally. Even more significantly, Roche notes, the JBL Flex speaker is the first vehicle speaker using a solid-state battery.

Solid-state batteries are lighter and denser than common lithium-ion batteries, which use liquid electrolyte and may pose the risk of leaks. Solid-state batteries can not only pack more power into a smaller footprint, they’re less susceptible to temperature changes. That’s a key factor, considering a dashboard speaker will constantly be subjected to thermal changes.

“The location on the front dash can come under high heat levels, so this material was chosen to mitigate the heat levels while maintaining proper performance,” Roche explains.

The Flex speakers will be sold as accessories through Toyota and can be daisy-chained together with up to 100 speakers by pushing a connection button on the unit. That’s one giant Taco party.

Edmunds says

What may seem like an unnecessary amenity actually includes very cool technology.