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Your weekends are safe! Toyota promises hybrid electric HiLux and Land Cruiser will meet 'diversity of the market and terrain in Australia'

Toyota's aim to reduce fleet emissions by 2030 means electrification is coming to the HiLux and LandCruiser, but in what form?

Toyota Australia is charging headlong into an electric future, rolling out petrol-electric hybrid powertrains in models like the RAV4, Kluger and Corolla, as well as bringing in a small fleet of its second-gen Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV) for trials.

But what about its HiLux ute (Australia’s best-selling model) and the ever-popular LandCruiser off-road SUV? Will they also be electrified in the short- to medium-term future?

The short answer is yes, as Toyota Australia works towards its goal of reducing its carbon dioxide fleet emissions by 25 per cent or more (compared with 2013 levels) over the next decade, the electrification of all nameplates seems inevitable.

But should its HiLux ute and LandCruiser SUV – models that have strong appeal in rural parts of Australia due to their rugged and reliable characteristics – opt for a petrol-electric hybrid, hydrogen or plug-in solution?

Speaking to media at the launch of the second-generation Mirai this week, Toyota Australia general manager of product planning and development Rod Ferguson indicated that hydrogen fuel cells strengths would play well with the HiLux and LandCruiser.

“I think there’s definitely potential across that [hydrogen fuel-cell power for HiLux and LandCruiser],” he said.

“We’re launching this type of car now, but the potential exists across a range of heavier vehicles or light trucks or trains or buses – definitely.

“This technology is well suited to back to base or quick refuelling, so we’re definitely not limited to this style of vehicle [Mirai mid-size sedan] we’re launching this morning.”

However, Toyota Australia vice-president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley added that hydrogen fuel cell might not be the only electrification technology that would suit the HiLux and LandCruiser, so long as they retain their “fit for purpose” design and meet “the demands of the market”.

“We’ve never ruled out – ever - the expansion of technology across other powertrains,” he said.

“Clearly, we have a big challenge in front of us in relation to the current 2030 FCAI self-regulated targets, and clearly as a result, in our first year we did very well in the passenger [car segment] and we’ve expanded somewhat to SUVs.

“We still have a big goal in front of us in terms of the light-commercial vehicles. We are committed to achieving those goals by 2030 across our full range.

“Therefore, we’ve never ruled out if the expansion of technologies whether they be hybrid and/or other across the other parts of our brand.

“We always understood that light-commercial vehicles would take a little while longer than passenger vehicles purely because of fit for purpose and the demands of the market and diversity of the market and terrain in Australia.

“Customers will not compromise on capability … so therefore its incumbent on us as a car company to bring that capability to the products – we’re committed to do that, whilst reducing our CO2 footprint.”

While the Toyota Mirai is only available to select business and organisations right now on a trial basis, the brand is aiming to have FCEVs in showrooms in as little as two years.

Given the long lifecycle of models like the HiLux and LandCruiser (the former lasting 14 years before a new-generation changeover is due later in 2021) hybrid and hydrogen options might not spring up overnight, but the current versions of the aforementioned vehicles might be the last without electrification.