Toyota Brought an Electric HiLux to Australia Just to Tease Us

Toyota Brought an Electric HiLux to Australia Just to Tease Us

The most popular class of consumer vehicle in Australia is the ute, and although electric vehicle uptake has been increasing, only one electric ute has made its way down under – the LDV eT60. Now, it appears that Toyota is teasing us with its electric HiLux concept, as shown at an event in Melbourne this week.

As reported by AAP, the HiLux concept ute will be tested in Australia, however, Toyota Australia’s sales vice-president Sean Hanley made it clear that this wasn’t a confirmation about Australian availability – whether it’ll come to Australia in the coming years, or arrive locally at all.

“What I can tell you is that we’re optimistic and we will definitely pursue the opportunity to bring such a vehicle to our market in future, should it become available,” Hanley said, again as reported by AAP.

Meanwhile, the BZ4X, Toyota’s first mass-market EV (also being sold in Australia as the Subaru Solterra) has been delayed to February 2024. It was originally expected in 2023, and it has been available in other markets (such as the U.S.) for about a year now. Toyota also plans to introduce two other battery-electric vehicles in Australia over the next three years.

Toyota has also been selling hybrids internationally for decades, and was one of the first automakers to get behind the technology, however, there is still yet to be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (or PHEV) available from Toyota in Australia. Toyota’s championing of hybrid technology is one of the things that makes its aversion to EVs so strange.

Toyota’s relationship with battery-only electrification has been rudimentary compared to many other automakers, such as Volvo, BYD, Hyundai, and Kia, and at the time of writing, although the company is the most popular automaker in the world in terms of volume sold, it hasn’t really jumped to compete with the likes of Tesla (although, it has recently dethroned Tesla as the most profitable automaker for the first time since 2021).

For this, Toyota has racked up its fair share of criticism. In May, as reported by AAP, Hanley claimed that it was too early for electric vehicles to replace Australia’s cars, and in September 2022, Greenpeace slammed Toyota for dragging its feet on electrification.

Rather, Toyota has promoted the development of hydrogen vehicles, of which it only has one consumer-oriented vehicle available, but only in fleet capacities in Australia. Naturally, hydrogen vehicles are difficult to accommodate, because of the lack of infrastructure across Australia, though Toyota reckons that a greater hydrogen refuelling network is essential for it to consider selling such vehicles to consumers. In October 2022, Reuters reported that Toyota was reshuffling its entire electric strategy.

I think there would be at least a small group of drivers that’d be willing to drive an electrified HiLux, in particular business customers that have actually been ordering Hilux utes converted to electric by third parties, but to also have the option available to consumers would probably be a good call.

The concept model does look great though. The front definitely retains the might of the petrol-powered HiLux.

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