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Toyota mulls hybrid HiLux option

TMCA studying hybrid powertrain option for best-selling HiLux pick-up

27 Aug 2020

TOYOTA Motor Company Australia (TMCA) has said it will not rule out the possibility of introducing a hybrid powertrain for its best-selling HiLux pick-up, following a period of sales success with its low-emissions offerings.


Weeks ago, Toyota New Zealand chief executive Neeraj Lala told journalists that it was hoping to get a hybrid HiLux into the country by the end of 2021, however no details were shared as to what shape the hybridised engine would take.


Speaking to journalists at the Australian launch of the updated HiLux, TMCA vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the brand would not confirm anything at this stage, however it was certainly interested by the prospect of a hybrid HiLux.


“Let me start by saying we have no announcements today in relation to hybrid HiLux, be it mild or otherwise, so will Australia get this model? It’s something we would surely not rule out given that it’s well understood our need to get our emissions output down considerably, especially now that we’re entering this period of self-regulation within the industry,” he said.


Mr Hanley also pointed to customers’ increasing appetite for hybrid models as a reason for TMCA to consider offering a comparable powertrain on its most popular model.


“Toyota’s hybrid credentials are well understood, we’ve been in the hybrid space for now nearly 20 years in Australia – hybrid vehicles now represent over 20 per cent of our sales mix now which we are incredibly encouraged by,” he said.


“So would we ever rule out a hybrid HiLux? No we would not.”


What shape a hybrid HiLux would take remains a mystery, with all of Toyota’s hybrid powertrains in Australia currently underpinned by a petrol engine, while the majority of HiLux variants and sales come from the 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine.


The updated 2.8-litre mill – now developing up to 150kW/500Nm – sips between 7.1-8.1 litres per 100km, emits 187-212 grams of CO2 per kilometre and features a Euro 5 emissions rating, the lowest permissible rating for Australia’s current standards.


Creating a hybrid HiLux could present a great opportunity for TMCA, offering an engine choice that would be unique in the crowded and wildly popular pick-up segment.


It could also help increase the HiLux’s appeal by offering buyers a less thirsty alternative to its counterparts, which would be of particular benefit to fleet and business buyers who might stand to save money on fuel.


Furthermore, if the Australian government were to update its emissions standards to Euro 6 at a minimum, it could force Toyota’s hand and spur TMCA to bring a hybrid version here.


If Toyota is not planning on applying its hybrid technology to the 1GD diesel engine, the most likely donor powertrain would probably be the 3.5-litre V6 petrol hybrid found in the Lexus RX.


The V6 hybrid teams a 193kW/335Nm engine to a 123kW electric motor for a combined output of 230kW.


Mr Hanley added that the most likely option would be the parallel hybrid setup as seen on the aforementioned Lexus and other Toyota vehicles, as opposed to a plug-in hybrid version.


Whichever choice Toyota makes, the hybrid will likely have to undergo specific testing in order to fit the rigorous standards of the HiLux, which requires towing ability and heavy usage in all weather conditions.


In 2019, Toyota managed to sell around 25,000 hybrid vehicles, well up on the 11,500 it managed in 2018 and an indication of the changing attitudes of customers towards hybrid vehicles.

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