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Toyota HiAce hybrid being investigated

A V6 petrol engine and four-cylinder diesel - that's what's available from launch in the new-generation HiAce van.

The recently launched Toyota HiAce commercial van is the first all-new model from the brand to be offered without a hybrid drivetrain in years.

It flies in the face of the brand's strong push towards increasing its petrol-electric footprint in Australia, with recent hybrid models such as the Camry, Corolla and RAV4 all taking a very different tact to those models with only a petrol V6 and a diesel four-cylinder engine available at launch.

Those aren't the only drivetrains that will be offered over the life of the new HiAce, though - Toyota Australia director of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, indicated at the launch of the new model that a hybrid powertrain will come in the future - just that it's a while away. And it could be diesel, instead of petrol.

"A hybrid powertrain has not been developed for this diesel engine. However, Toyota Australia's position on electrification of our range in the future is quite clear. In our definition of electrification we include petrol-hybrid, full hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles," said Mr Hanley.

"Our position on reducing our CO2 footprint is very clearly stated, so it's something we'll look at and study for in the future."

Toyota HiAce chief engineer Takuo Ishikawa confirmed that the brand is investigating hybrid powertrains for the new van.

"We are studying that at the moment," said Ishikawa-san.

Toyota Australia proudly boasts that if its hybrid range were sold as a separate brand, it would be 14th on the sales charts locally.

Customers clearly want it. Some of our YouTube comments suggest there is a demand, with words such as: "Screaming out for a petrol hybrid version for city folk", according to user minimumtrade; while Robert Eaves wrote "No hybrid, no plug in and a CD player! It's already out of date!".

Is a hybrid HiAce an option you'd like to see? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.