Yesterday was an enormous one for Toyota at the Shanghai Auto Show. It unveiled its first electric vehicle, the decidedly production ready bZ4X Concept, sister brand Lexus showed off an updated ES sedan. And the brand made a host of comments about its commitment to electrification.
There was a lot to pick apart with those statements; both those issued by Toyota New Zealand CEO Neeraj Lala and those uttered to the press in Shanghai. But one of the nuggets that seemingly went under the radar was a comment on plans for a selection of ‘greener’ utes.
In its statement where it said that some 15 electric cars would be coming down the pipe, Toyota added that it is also going to “bring electrification to the pickup truck lineup in the near future, including hybrid and BEV powertrains.”
The rumour mill has linked Toyota’s ute offerings to hybrid powertrains numerous times over the years. In 2019 speculation from Automotive News in the US suggested that the next-gen Hilux would share a platform with the American Tundra and Tacoma, and that said platform would include the necessary specs to allow for battery tech.
Closer to home, Lala told local media at the updated Hilux’s launch last year that he expected a hybrid Hilux to be coming soon as part of the brand’s push for all of its nameplates to have a hybrid version.
“We expect this trend to continue and even expand into commercials. We hope to have Hilux hybrid enter the market before the end of next year,” he said.
It’s unclear whether the Toyota comment will apply to both its American product (Tacoma, Tundra) and what it sells to the rest of the world (Hilux) simultaneously. But given the surge in curiosity around the genre — and looming internal combustion vehicle bans in Europe — one would assume all three nameplates are covered by the comment.
The quiet announcement is the second of its kind in recent times. Ford has also outlined future plans for an electrified Ranger, with its confirmation also being made in somewhat whispered tones. That announcement was part of Ford’s commitment to going purely electric in Europe by 2030.
Despite all the talk about electric ute production, just a handful are actually on sale — including the GMC Hummer EV and a handful of options exclusive to China. The Rivian R1-T, Tesla Cybertruck, electric Great Wall Cannon and LDT T60, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and Ford’s electric F-150 are among those set to land in the coming years.