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What we know so far about the incoming hybrid utes: Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara and others coming soon

An artist’s impression of the upcoming Ford Ranger, which is set to get plug-in hybrid power. (Image credit: William Vicente)

It’s no secret the automotive world is making the electric switch, and not even load-lugging utes will be spared.

All of Australia’s favourite utes are headed down a path of electrification, with hybrid models set to hit showrooms in a steady stream throughout the upcoming decade.

We’ve written plenty about these new models and more information keeps coming to light, so here’s a recap of the latest intel, so you know what to expect.

Toyota HiLux

Australia’s best-selling ute is set to introduce a hybrid model when the new-generation HiLux arrives in 2023. As reported, the HiLux will maintain a turbo-diesel engine - the current popular choice for ute buyers - but pair it with an electric motor for improved efficiency and more pulling power.

While the Japanese giant is still considering a more conventional petrol-electric hybrid, maintaining a diesel option for the HiLux’s strong rural customer base has major upside, according to Toyota Australia’s general manager of product planning and development, Rod Ferguson.

“We know that some people are particularly wedded to diesel,” he explained to CarsGuide. “Some farmers, for example, store diesel on their property, or it’s more accessible, or you’re in a region where you can’t have petrol.”

Ford Ranger

The new Ranger is coming soon, and even though the blue oval hasn’t officially confirmed it, we know from its plans to go all-electric this decade and recent spy photographs from Europe that a plug-in hybrid powertrain will be available with the new model.

Despite earlier reports suggesting it would use the same 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid found in the Escape PHEV, the more likely option is a new 2.3-litre set-up. This combination of a turbocharged petrol engine and an electric motor is tipped to make more than 250kW of power and more than 650Nm of torque.

The Ranger PHEV could be the first to market, too, with the new model due in showrooms in 2022. Even if the PHEV doesn’t launch initially and is held back to 2023, it would still likely beat the HiLux and most others to market - with one exception...

Mitsubishi Triton

The biggest challenger to the Ranger, in terms of being first to market, is likely the Triton. That’s because the Japanese ute will get an all-new model in 2022, based on underpinnings it will share with the next-generation Nissan Navara as part of the strengthened Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

What’s more, at its June annual shareholders meeting, Mitsubishi management made it clear it will “aggressively launch electric vehicles” in markets with suitable infrastructure, but in markets like Australia that are slow to adopt EVs, it added: “At the same time, for countries and regions where infrastructure facilities and environmental regulations will be developed in the future, we plan to launch plug-in hybrid vehicles and BEVs ahead of others to strengthen our competitiveness through product development that meets local requirements.”

So, as Mitsubishi led the way with Outlander PHEV in the SUV market, the Triton PHEV could be the first option for hybrid ute buyers.

Isuzu D-Max

With all of its key rivals working on hybrid options, Isuzu Ute Australia director of sales Koichiro Yoshida said the company is looking at how these hybrid utes will be received before it commits to electrifying the new D-Max.

“We are still monitoring the market if there’s such a demand or not,” he told CarsGuide.

“We are always watching the market carefully and try to provide a product which meets regulations, including emissions standards, and the customer demand to provide the best solution.”

So, Isuzu is seemingly taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach as the ute market evolves.

Mazda BT-50

Mazda has committed to offering an electrified version of every model in its range by 2030 - except one.

Whether the Mazda offers a hybrid version of its ute depends largely on what Isuzu decides. With the BT-50 built on the D-Max platform and manufactured by Isuzu, Mazda isn’t in the position to act independently.

Nissan Navara

While there are no plans for the current D23 Navara to introduce a hybrid option, the next-generation model is due in 2024 and, as mentioned earlier, will utilise the same platform as the Mitsubishi Triton. That will mean the option of using Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid powertrain should be available to Nissan, too.

Then Nissan Australia managing director Stephen Lester told CarsGuide earlier this year that he’s open-minded about the possibility of offering hybrid utes, saying: “The principles of a truck, ute - whatever you want to call it – are for towing, are for hauling, pay demands [and] generally speaking, high-output, high-torque engines, motors, etcetera.

“I don’t have any plans or discussions to disclose on that, but this, to me, is the feeling of why wouldn’t it change or evolve at some point?”

Volkswagen Amarok

This is another example of a company needing to follow its partner, with the next-generation Amarok being developed as a spin-off of the new Ranger.

While Volkswagen has been quiet about any plans for a hybrid version of the Amarok, given the German brand’s push towards electrification, it seems unlikely it would miss the opportunity to use Ford’s 2.3-litre plug-in hybrid powertrain if it’s made available.