Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Why your next ute might be a hybrid: Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok, Mitsubishi Triton and Nissan Navara set for electrification in the future

The new VW Amarok could get a hybrid powertrain as it will share its underpinnings with the Ford Range (Image: William Vicente).

This story might have seemed far-fetched only a few years ago, but make no mistake, a wave of new hybrid-powered utes are about to flood the market.

After decades relying on torque-rich diesel engines to power utes of various shapes and sizes, the workhorses have become popular family and performance vehicles, and so will adopt many of the same technologies as upcoming SUVs and passenger cars.

While we’ve already reported on the new wave of full-electric utes, including the Rivian R1T and Tesla Cybertruck, there will be a number conventional and potentially plug-in hybrid options available too, to help ute buyers make an easier transition from fossil fuel.

Less than a decade ago the idea that utes costing more than $50,000 would become some of the most popular new vehicles on market would have been scoffed at, so even though car makers are trying to play it close to the chest, these hybrid utes are coming. The electrified revolution is about to hit the ute market – hard.

2022 Ford Ranger/Volkswagen Amarok

As we reported earlier, Ford of Europe’s announcement that it will transition to an all-electrified line-up by the end of the decade all-but-confirms a hybrid Ranger is coming soon.

Will it arrive later this year when the new-generation Ranger is revealed, or will Ford hold it back for its own unique unveiling? Only time will tell.

But the likelihood of a hybrid Ranger seems better than ever, and it will likely be a plug-in hybrid powertrain too as the Blue Oval looks to push beyond conventional hybrids as part of its wholesale switch.

Naturally, the fact the Ranger will seemingly introduce a PHEV variant leads to the possibility Volkswagen could do the same with its new Amarok – because the two utes are being co-developed. Given Volkswagen’s electric push with a raft of ID models in the coming decade, offering a PHEV version of the Amarok seems in keeping with its plans.

The only caveat is Volkswagen hasn’t made any public statement or suggestion about the Amarok introducing a hybrid variant, which could either be to save the surprise or because Ford won’t share its PHEV powertrain.

Toyota HiLux

The next-generation HiLux is due in 2024 and a hybrid variant will likely be among the biggest changes. The Japanese brand has enjoyed enormous success with both the HiLux (Australia’s best-selling new vehicle) and hybrids (selling in big numbers in the RAV4, Corolla and Camry), so it only makes sense to combine them.

When asked about the chances of a HiLux hybrid last year, Toyota Australia’s vice-president for sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, told CarsGuide: “Hybrid is more than 20 per cent of our sales mix. Would we rule it out? No, we would not, but we don’t have any announcements at the moment.”

Which simply means the time isn’t right to announce the new model, as it’s still three years away from the showroom floor. But Toyota has said for a number of years now it wants every model in its line-up offered with a hybrid powertrain, so come 2024 it should be an option.

Mitsubishi Triton/Nissan Navara

While Ford and Toyota are being coy, Mitsubishi looks set to win the race to get a hybrid ute into the popular dual-cab ute market. The new Triton is set to break cover early in 2022 and Mitsubishi Australia has already said it believes the market is ready for a plug-in hybrid ute.

As local boss John Signoriello told CarsGuide in 2019, demands and taste in the ute market are changing.

“Not everyone needs to be off-road in a ute, in fact a lot of them are on bitumen roads, and the technology will get better and better,” Mr Signoriello said.

“And eventually, at some point, that technology will do better than what diesel technology does. It's only a matter of time.

“I think it would be a good point of difference. Would Australia have its hand up for it? Absolutely.”

Which raises the question about the next-gen Nissan Navara, as the two utes are expected to share technologies and platforms in the years ahead as the Mitsubishi-Nissan Alliance tightens.

Given Nissan’s history with EVs it only makes sense for the brand to adopt hybrid powertrains for its ute moving forward.