As hype continues to build around this year’s reveal of the all-new Ford Ranger, whether the best-selling nameplate will come with a plug-in hybrid powertrain continues to be one of the hottest topics.
Now, it’s rumoured that two other heavy hitters in the ute arena could have plug-ins in the works, too. Mitsubishi and Nissan are currently developing their next-generation shared ute platform. And, it appears that electrification might be on the table.
Speaking to Australian press at a roundtable event last week, Mitsubishi senior manager of product strategy Owen Thomson said that electrifying the Triton has been on Mitsubishi’s mind for quite some time. Given that the Triton and Navara will soon share DNA, it’s safe to assume that the Navara could adopt the same powertrain.
“It’s certainly been from day one that consideration of electrification has been in the Triton plan,” he said. “If you look at the ute market generally it’s clear that at some time during this decade there is going to be all sorts of forms of electrification of utes. It’s just a matter of what form that will take and when it happens in the market.”
Thomson noted that plug-in hybrid powertrains might not be every ute buyer’s cup of tea, most likely pointing to diesel continuing to be an option. Instead, he pointed to plug-in utes being a more viable option for urban and lifestyle buyers.
“There are certain different user groups that can take advantage of it, but for other user groups it may well be a disadvantage,” he added.
“Personally, I can’t see a petrol PHEV ute working for remote users on mining sites, they certainly don’t want to store explosive fuel on site. That’s the reason all the mining companies use diesel, they don’t use petrol, purely from a fuel safety management point of view on site.
“City-based users, a petrol PHEV ute is probably a good thing for them. This is the challenge for the ute market. There’s such a diverse range of buyers and needs, that it’s quite difficult sometimes to navigate your way through this.”
Both Mitsubishi and Nissan have a handy knowledge of plug-in powertrains; the former gaining experience from its Outlander and Eclipse Cross PHEV models, and the latter learning plenty from its Leaf and e-NV200 commercial.
Electrified utes have been a hot topic in New Zealand this year, following the government’s Clean Car Discount and Clean Car Standard legislation announcements, and ongoing protests from farmers and ute buyers who are set to foot some of the bill.
Those excited by the prospect of a plug-in Triton or Navara, though, shan’t hold their breath. According to reports, the new models are unlikely to launch until 2023.