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Is this the ultimate ute? 2025 BYD Shark kicks off plug-in hybrid ute war with Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton | Opinion

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2025 BYD Shark.
2025 BYD Shark.

We all want to prevent the world from turning into a natural disaster riddled hothouse in the not-too-distant future, that’s a given.

But EVs aren’t the magical solution to the world’s climate woes that many people believe them to be, however driving them may at least form one small part of humankind’s ever-changing scramble to rectify the damage we have all wrought on the world during our time here.

Driving an EV may be preferable to the world turning into a fiery hellhole, but if you live outside of a city or if you’re a ute-driving tradie who has to travel many hours and many kilometres during a typical work day – to several different job sites, to Bunnings, to a pie shop, to another location to do a quote for a new client – an EV is not a viable option.

At the moment there are just so many variables involved with using an EV ute as your vehicle of choice – range anxiety, lack of charging stations, the actual time it takes to charge – that it just doesn’t make sense as a daily driver.

So what is a viable option? A hybrid vehicle – one with a traditional fuel source (petrol or diesel) and electric power – is a cheaper alternative to a full-blown EV and it yields better fuel economy and less environmental impact than a standard petrol or diesel engine vehicle.

A plug-in hybrid ute – one in which the electric motor runs the show until its battery is depleted enough that the internal-combustion engine kicks in as back-up – offers a happy compromise between saving the planet and still being able to get to and from job sites on time and with a full load onboard.

And, lucky for all of us, some interesting options are on their way, not the least of which is the Chinese-built BYD Shark, which on paper at least, looks like it might just rattle the cage of the Aussie ute market.

2025 BYD Shark.
2025 BYD Shark.

This is a first for Australia – a plug-in hybrid ute – and in terms of performance and potential, the Shark presents a strong case.

It has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with dual electric motors: a 170kW/310NM front motor and a 150kw/340Nm rear motor (total: 320kW and 650Nm).

This BYD ute has a claimed driving range of 100km (electric only) and approximately 850km (hybrid).

That’s a decent stretch of driving and worth noting because a plug-in hybrid doesn’t burden its driver with the crippling range anxiety that troubles some EV drivers.

Think about that for a moment.

An EV is wholly reliant on electric power; a hybrid isn’t. A hybrid can be driven with confidence all day if needed, because there are service stations everywhere (so you can fuel up if you have to), but there aren’t reliable EV charging stations everywhere.

2025 Ford Ranger PHEV.
2025 Ford Ranger PHEV.

In fact, in the three years I’ve been involved in testing and reviewing EVs, I’ve found that charging stations are often broken/non-functional, offline (for maintenance purposes), too busy (with a queue already formed), or worse still, the parking space allocated to an EV for charging has been taken by an ICE vehicle because the driver was too bloody lazy to park a few more steps away from their favourite fast-food joint.

The Shark has a listed payload of 850kg and braked towing capacity of 2500kg. It doesn’t have the 1000kg payload or 3500kg market-standard towing capacity of a stack of other utes, but it can still take on a considerable burden and clock up big distances before it needs to be refuelled/recharged – which is more than anyone can reasonably expect from any current EV.

An EV’s driving range is effectively halved when it’s faced with extreme demands, such as carrying a payload’s worth of tools and equipment, or towing a trailer load of building materials.

The power-consumption claims of EV manufacturers are one thing, but real-world use is another. For example, Rivian claims its R1T electric ute in the US has a touring range of 643km, but it wouldn’t do anywhere near that distance fully loaded and driving from job site to job site to job site … and the pie shop.

Hybrids are generally a good combination of performance and fuel economy and offer people the opportunity to do something rather than nothing about addressing serious emissions issues in the world.

Plug-in hybrids make a lot of sense as utes and there are more on the way including new versions of the Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton with petrol plug-in hybrid systems, so pretty soon you’ll be spoilt for choice.

A well-priced, well-engineered plug-in hybrid ute could be the effective workhorse and happy compromise that everyone is waiting for.

If you’re a tradie, a plug-in hybrid ute will give you the ability to reduce emissions, save on fuel costs and still lug loads, go the distance, tow your boat … and hit the pie shop. Job done.

Marcus Craft
Contributing Journalist
Raised by dingoes and, later, nuns, Marcus (aka ‘Crafty’) had his first taste of adventure as a cheeky toddler on family 4WD trips to secret fishing spots near Bundaberg, Queensland. He has since worked as a journalist for more than 20 years in Australia, London and Cape Town and has been an automotive journalist for 18 years. This bloke has driven and camped throughout much of Australia – for work and play – and has written yarns for pretty much every mag you can think of. The former editor of 4X4 Australia magazine, Marcus is one of the country’s most respected vehicle reviewers and off-road adventure travel writers.
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