Toyota Australia has formally dismissed reports by mainstream media there will be an electric HiLux ute.
The debate about electric vehicles and their suitability in Australia was sparked by the federal opposition’s election promise to require 50% of all new cars sold by 2030 to run on electric power.
Now Toyota Australia has broken its silence and confirmed there are no plans for an electric HiLux ute, however it has not ruled out the possibility of a hybrid version some time in the next decade.
“We never said that there would be a full electric HiLux,” said Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley. “We have never confirmed there would be a full electric HiLux.”
However, he added, “there is a global plan to include electrification across a range of vehicles”.
“It all comes down to the definition of electrification of vehicles,” said Mr Hanley. “But unfortunately the mainstream media has seemingly defined electrification as full electric and it’s not the only solution.”
Toyota and other car makers are working on petrol-electric hybrid cars, plug-in hybrids, pure electric cars, and hydrogen-powered electric cars, and Mr Hanley said Toyota would likely offer all options depending on the customer requirements of each individual model.
Speaking at the media preview of Toyota Australia’s first hybrid SUV, the new generation RAV4, Mr Hanley said: “I want to dispel any myths that... Toyota is against full electrification. We’re just not. We’re making significant investments in battery technology in both China and the US right now. Some would suggest in many ways we are leading that charge.”
Mr Hanley said: “Hybrid petrol is a credible option as we transition to electric cars or (hydrogen-powered) fuel cell cars. We’re not closed to any of these options going forward.”
He said Toyota was “well positioned” for stricter emissions standards, should they be imposed.
“We know stricter CO2 and environment regulations are coming, but we’re not waiting,” said Mr Hanley. “We are well-positioned to meet anticipated CO2 regulations whenever they come – but we also know we have a wider responsibility.”
To help accelerate the roll out of electric and hybrid technology, Mr Hanley said Toyota Japan is in the process of granting almost 24,000 royalty-free patents to rival car companies.
“These are remarkable initiatives to promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles, and to help governments, car makers and society at large accomplish goals related to climate change,” said Mr Hanley.
“For the time being, hybrid is the most practical way to produce fewer emissions because it’s available now and it uses existing infrastructure.”
Toyota just clocked up 100,000 Toyota hybrid sales in Australia. Six of the 11 models in the new RAV4 range are hybrid, joining the hybrid Camry and Corolla.
“Our plan this year is to sell at least 25,000 hybrid vehicles – more than twice the number we sold last year,” said Mr Hanley. “That demonstrates the accelerated demand for hybrid.”
Based on last year’s industry sales, Toyota says those 25,000 vehicles would make Toyota hybrid-electric vehicles the 14th largest automotive franchise in Australia ahead of Audi, BMW and Suzuki – and bigger than the combined sales of Alfa Romeo, Fiat, LDV, Mini, Peugeot, Porsche and Skoda.