Toyota benchmarking the Tesla Cybertruck and Ford F-150 Lightning

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Toyota’s development teams have been spied driving Tesla’s controversial electric pick-up, suggesting it’s bringing more than one
electric ute to showrooms.

Toyota engineers have been spied driving a Tesla Cybertruck among several competitor vehicles, suggesting the Japanese car maker may have a large electric pick-up in the works.

A large electric pick-up would potentially join a future mid-size Toyota HiLux and a city-sized electric pick-up for a three-tier battery-powered line-up.

Toyota has previously confirmed it will build an electric pick-up but has not said which model will introduce the new technology to showrooms.

Toyota Australia imported a prototype electric Toyota HiLux in late 2023 for evaluation, suggesting electrification of the popular ute was a priority.

Yet website Motrolix has reported staff at multiple Toyota engineering, research and development campuses in North America testing electric versions of competitors’ larger pick-ups.

In the US, the Japanese car maker sells the Toyota HiLux-based Tacoma as well as the larger Tundra, a rival to the Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram
and Chevrolet Silverado.

Of the two, only the Tundra is currently available in Australia as part of a 300-vehicle trial, with the 2025 model yet to be confirmed.

Alongside the Tesla Cybertruck, key electric rivals seen under evaluation by Toyota engineers included the Ford F-150 Lightning, as well as the electric GMC Hummer – both similar in size to the Tundra.

This suggests Toyota may be working on various-sized electric pick-ups, with the Tundra being electrified after the HiLux-sized Tacoma.

A new model Tacoma is due on sale in North America in mid-2024 which will share its underpinnings with a new-generation Toyota HiLux expected in
Australia in 2025.

There appears to be a stronger business case for an electric Tacoma, the best-selling Toyota pick-up in the US, with 234,768 sales in 2023.

Tundra, by comparison, was easily beaten in 2023 by the best-selling vehicle in the US – the Ford F-Series – which posted 750,798 sales.

Of those, 124,165 were the electric F-150 Lightning – with Ford saying it lost money on every electric F-Series sold – yet Tundra sales totalled only 125,185.

An electric Tundra and Tacoma may also be joined by an even smaller electric Toyota ute.

At the 2023 Tokyo motor show Toyota unveiled the EPU small electric ute concept, a car-based city-sized pick-up smaller than a HiLux not confirmed for production.

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