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The all-new 2025 Toyota HiLux looks certain to stick with a diesel powertrain, as the Japanese giant's Australian executives point to a true electric HiLux being years away at best.
But Toyota used a recent model showcase – where it revealed an electric HiLux Revo currently in Australia for evaluation purposes – to make the point that electric technology can't provide what Australian drivers expect from their utes.
"Honestly, who's going to buy something that wants to go off road and tow and have 800km [of range], if it’s going to be $100,000 and doesn’t do half? So therefore, that's our goal to get there," said Toyota Australia's Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley.
"Of course, what I'm really hanging out for is exactly the same thing that everybody's asking the question about, and that is a load-carrying, trailer-towing, remote area off-road HiLux four by four with zero tailpipe emissions. What a vehicle that would be. And it’s possible. But imagine the size, weight and charging time of the battery pack that you need to do all that and achieve 800 kilometres of range.
"Rest assured Toyota is working on it. Of course, our breakthrough work on solid state batteries might come to the fore. And maybe, just maybe, there's another solution. Perhaps this is where hydrogen fuel cells could come into their own. Not surprisingly, Toyota has been working in that space too for years.”
There's a few clues to unpack there. The first is that Toyota's solid state battery technology isn't expected to reach production until 2027 – long after the new Toyota HiLux is due.
And while prototype fuel-cell vehicles are being tested in Europe, a true hydrogen roll out could be even further off, given the extensive infrastructure that would be required to support it.
The first will be 2.4-litre in-line four-cylinder turbo-diesel, which is expected to deliver an electrified hybrid option. The second, the site says, is a 2.8-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel, which may, or may not, be a version of the engine currently fitted to Australia's top-selling vehicle.
Response says it has the scoop on the next HiLux's dimensions, too, claiming the new ute will measure 5355mm in length, 1860mm in width and 1800mm in height, keeping it smaller than the Tundra, and slotting underneath the Tacoma, too.
In the meantime, Toyota says investigations into BEVs and hydrogen options are underway, but concedes it will be a "while yet" before they're ready for production.
"That's where I believe hydrogen and fuel cells come into their own, it provides great range, providing it is green hydrogen it's totally carbon neutral, and it can tow. And it can handle the big heavy stuff. And I think that's the journey we're on. But you know, there'll be a role for BEVs. we're seeing it now, we're seeing in the market," Hanley said.
"I mean, let's be frank, it’s happening, but it's a while yet before I think we are going to have the full capability in Australia, of an affordable, practical solution for the customers that use the cars the way they use them in Australia."