Toyota has once again thrown its support behind the next generation Hilux going the diesel/electric route, but not up against the Ford Range Raptor anytime soon.
With reports of the incoming Land Cruiser 300 receiving an electrified, oil-burning heart still rampant, Toyota Australia Sales and Marketing Vice President, Sean Hanley, has indicated that while the automaker has no plans on phasing out diesel engines entirely, alternative forms of propulsion will have to be looked at in the next four to five years.
“It’s not beyond (a) possibility that we could have diesel hybrids (but) the vehicle needs to be capable. Clearly our customers are saying ‘we’re ok to look at alternatives’, but when start entering the light commercial vehicle space, you’ve got to be able to have the capability to go with it. That’s deeply important,” Hanley told caradvice.com.au.
“We are keen to reduce our CO2 footprint so hybrid electric for us is important. We understand the challenges of diesel technology going forward, but we also understand the opportunity (with this technology). It’s not impossible”.
Hanley’s latest comments comes after confirming to motoring.com.au in October that the Hilux, as well as the Land Cruiser 76 and 79, will be electrified as per Toyota’s aim of having its entire model ranges feature a hybrid drivetrain by 2025.
“We’ve always maintained that whatever we do in the future, we will continue to have Hiluxes, we will continue to have Land Cruisers going forward, but we will bring out – in the future – some type of electrification. There’s no doubt”, Hanley said at the time.
What is not expected however is a Gazoo Racing (GR) Hilux despite Hanley admitting that demand in a revived version of the erstwhile, Australia only TRD remains high.
“We are always keen to look at any GR product (but) of course we are in the hands of the GR company (in terms of) what will be developed. I think customers would be interested in it, I don’t know that we’re getting asked for it, to be honest. However, right now, we don’t have that on the radar,” Hanley said.
Prior to the GR moniker’s introduction, the top-spec Hilux SR5, the Australian equivalent to the South African-spec Raider, offered a TRD model that mainly received a series of cosmetic upgrades similar to the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, although the previous generation Hilux TRD 4000 SL sold Down Under in limited numbers more than a decade ago, featured a supercharged version of the stalwart 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine that made 225kW/453Nm.
Hanley’s ruling out of a GR model has seemingly put a damper on the less hardcore Hilux GR Sport entering Australia, which remains on sale locally despite continuing to make do with the 2.8 GD-6 engine as opposed to the non-assisted 4.0-litre V6 that replaced the oil-burner in South America last month.
At the same time, Hanley also poured cold water on speculation that Toyota might be introducing a full-on rival for the Raptor, saying that while “we’re certainly always looking at the capability and how we can expand that, we don’t have any plans at this point” on introducing a model that will sit above the off-road focused Hilux Rugged X in its line-up.