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New Toyota HiLux Hybrid to be powered by China? Toyota set to borrow BYD Shark's DMI technology for future models to tackle Ford Ranger PHEV and electric Isuzu D-Max - reports

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Toyota HiLux Hybrid to be powered by China? (Image:
Toyota HiLux Hybrid to be powered by China? (Image:

Could the next Toyota HiLux be powered by BYD? It seems the unexpected tie-up is on the cards, according to recent reports out of China, with the Japanese giant set to borrow BYD's DMI technology to power future models.

Exactly what models are yet to be confirmed, but given the plug-in hybrid BYD Shark has just been unveiled featuring a ladder-frame platform and DMI technology, a plug-in hybrid HiLux has emerged as a possibility.

It must be said, though, that a DMI HiLux remains a hypothetical for now. But according to China's Caijing, which claims the exclusive on this, the two companies are set to link over the rollout of BYD's plug-in hybrid technology, giving Toyota a head start as it launches what it is reportedly calling "Practical Hybrid Electric Vehicles".

"Toyota's joint venture in China does have plans to introduce plug-in hybrid in the next two to three years, and the technical route is likely to no longer use Toyota's original Hybrid mode, but may adopt DMI technology from the future. In terms of product planning, there are about two or three models involved. However, there is no further news on whether these products can be implemented as promised," the publication says.

We do know work has begun on a plug-in hybrid HiLux, which the brand here says would transform the technology from the “ultimate inconvenience” to the “ultimate convenience”.

"Battery technology evolves, and it's evolving quickly. If we can get to a situation where a PHEV has the capability of doing 200-plus kilometres on BEV alone — so in other words, if I've got a HiLux I can just go around town, I can run that on BEV and be carbon-neutral pretty well, providing I'm using renewable energy to do it," says Toyota Australia's VP of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley.

“Now the issue is of course can it tow? Can it take a heavy load? Well, to be able to flick a switch and say, well, for those moments where I'm going out off-road or for those moments where I need to tow a heavy load, I've got the convenience of going to a normal hybrid engine and I can get 500 or 600 kilometres and it's convenient, then I see a role for PHEV in that space.

“I think that's some years away, to be honest, that battery technology. But when it comes, PHEVs will have a renewed engagement with the market because they'll go from what I call the ultimate inconvenience to the ultimate convenience.”

Asked directly whether Toyota is working on a 200km-range PHEV, Mr Hanley replied: “Of course we are. And so that to us would represent two things. It's practical (and) it can do things that the customer wants it to do.”

It's possible the BYD has given us our first hint of what a plug-in HiLux might look like, with that model fitted with a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor at the rear axle.

All up, the DMI – or Dual Motor Intelligence – system will produce 320kW of power and a total 650Nm (more than V8-powered Ram 1500), allowing for a Ford Ranger Raptor-taming sprint to 100km/h of just 5.7 seconds.

The Shark's 30kWh 'Blade' battery pack, which the brand says will deliver an all-electric driving range of around 100kms on the NEDC cycle, while total driving range is more like 845kms.

The downside? The braked towing capacity is just 2500kgs – a full tonne less than the diesel-powered Toyota HiLux.

But Toyota might have a trick up its sleeve there, too. According to those same Chinese reports, the brand wouldn't just copy and paste the technology, but would alter it to better suit the characteristics and requirements of Toyota.

"It is certain that even if BYD DMI technology is used, Toyota will definitely carry out new polishing and training, and the driving experience of the final model will still be different," sources have told Caijing.

Toyota is yet to comment on or confirm the reports in any of its markets.

Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist
Andrew Chesterton should probably hate cars. From his hail-damaged Camira that looked like it had spent a hard life parked at the end of Tiger Woods' personal driving range, to the Nissan Pulsar Reebok that shook like it was possessed by a particularly mean-spirited demon every time he dared push past 40km/h, his personal car history isn't exactly littered with gold. But that seemingly endless procession of rust-savaged hate machines taught him something even more important; that cars are more than a collection of nuts, bolts and petrol. They're your ticket to freedom, a way to unlock incredible experiences, rolling invitations to incredible adventures. They have soul. And so, somehow, the car bug still bit. And it bit hard. When "Chesto" started his journalism career with News Ltd's Sunday and Daily Telegraph newspapers, he covered just about everything, from business to real estate, courts to crime, before settling into state political reporting at NSW Parliament House. But the automotive world's siren song soon sounded again, and he begged anyone who would listen for the opportunity to write about cars. Eventually they listened, and his career since has seen him filing car news, reviews and features for TopGear, Wheels, Motor and, of course, CarsGuide, as well as many, many others. More than a decade later, and the car bug is yet to relinquish its toothy grip. And if you ask Chesto, he thinks it never will.
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