The mild-hybrid Toyota HiLux might not be the only version of the popular nameplate to go into production with electrical assistance.
Japanese car giant Toyota is reportedly continuing to investigate the viability of an electric version of its best-selling HiLux ute, while keeping an open mind on putting its class-leading hybrid technology into the dual-cab.
A one-off electric HiLux prototype built in Thailand was recently shipped to Australia to be tested by Toyota’s local engineering team, before heading back overseas to join a ‘demonstration fleet’ of the brand’s battery-powered vehicles.
Despite extensive testing in the Oceania region, the head of Toyota Motor Europe’s light commercial vehicles division, Emmanuel Beaune, told UK publication Top Gear a production version of the electric HiLux for global showrooms is not a guarantee – instead suggesting the car giant is working on multiple reduced-emissions solutions, which retain a petrol or diesel engine.
“It [the electric HiLux] is really part of our multi pathway approach, to have different powertrains and solutions,” Mr Beaune told Top Gear journalist Greg Potts.
“So, it’s too early to comment on an electric Hilux today. There are some investigations, but I cannot say more.”
Despite featuring a mild-hybrid system similar to those marketed as hybrids by rival car-makers – and branding the electrically-assisted HiLux as a hybrid in Europe – Toyota Australia will not use the ‘h’-word when referring to its new dual-cab.
As previously reported, Toyota Australia says it will reserve this badge for full hybrids which can drive the wheels on electric power alone. Current Toyota hybrids in Australia are capable of saving up to 50 per cent of fuel compared to equivalent petrol-only models.
By contrast, Toyota expects the mild-hybrid HiLux – which uses a 48-volt battery and a small electric motor-generator that is unable to drive the wheels on its own – to reduce the ute’s fuel consumption by a claimed 10 per cent.
Speaking at the launch of the mild-hybrid HiLux in Europe – where it is branded as the HiLux Hybrid – Kwinten Sijs, senior manager for product marketing at Toyota Professional, foreshadowed another hybrid variant with more focus on the electric motor, in an interview with UK publication Autocar.
“We are acting and thinking as a multi-pathway [manufacturer] and that goes for all our models, including Hilux,” Mr Sijs said. “It is of course a global model, so this needs to be considered during development.
“Currently, there is no concrete plan in terms of alternative powertrains on top of this one, but for sure that is something which is being considered.
“Maybe in the coming months, there will be a more concrete roll-out of alternative powertrains for HiLux. But currently we still have to go with the [petrol or diesel] engine [to retain towing, payload, driving range]. It is a first, small step.”
As the next-generation HiLux is expected to be more closely related to the North American-market Toyota Tacoma, Australia’s version of the ute could be powered by a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with hybrid assistance – a layout shared with the new US-market Toyota LandCruiser 250 Series (marketed here as the Prado, with diesel power only).
Toyota’s figures show the petrol-hybrid LandCruiser 250 Series uses about the same amount of fuel as the current turbo-diesel – but non-hybrid – 150 Series Prado, which shares its 2.8-litre engine with certain versions of the HiLux.
The petrol-hybrid Toyota LandCruiser Prado will not be a part of the Australian line-up, as it is not produced in right-hand drive.
<button class="navigation_glide__arrow__je__h navigation_glide__arrow–left__y3DP1 navigation_glide__arrow–inactive__H6d8_" data-glide-dir="|Previous