Research done by Toyota Australia is showing its army of regional and rural owners are “very enthusiastic” for hybrid versions of the next HiLux and LandCruiser — provided they’re capable enough to do the work required.
The company, which aims for about 20 per cent of its sales in Australia to be hybrid cars next year (equal to about 40,000 cars), has already said we can expect ‘electrified’ derivatives offered across its total range by around 2025.
To set the scene, the market leader has been conducting a “hybrid cavalcade”, taking a petrol-electric Corolla, Camry, RAV4 and Prius to its regional dealers on a truck and inviting rural customers to ask questions about how it suits them.
“We talk about what it does and how it works, dispel a whole lot of myths about its battery life, cost, capability, the fact you don’t need to charge it,” said Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia's vice president of marketing and sales.
“What we are quickly learning as we travel around Australia and we talk about hybrids in regional areas, is our regional areas particularly in the agricultural sector are well advanced in alternate powertrains in their other machinery.
“What we’re also learning is they are very enthusiastic for Toyota to bring out commercial vehicles in hybrid, and what those would be capable of doing.
“Whatever we do in future, we will continue to have HiLuxes and LandCruisers going forward, and we will bring out some type of electrification there’s no doubt — we have to, to meet the type of [CO2] targets we’ll have.
“But we are giving certainty to our rural customers that whatever we bring out will have the capability required.
“They work the land, they know the environment. These people live and breathe the nutrients of the earth, so they’re 100 per cent committed to reducing their CO2 footprint. And it’s incumbent on us to provide vehicles that suit their requirements and reduce the impact we have on the earth.”
Asked directly if Toyota would be first to market locally with a hybrid pickup, like the HiLux, Hanley said he clearly couldn’t answer because he doesn’t know rivals’ plans.
Based on the company’s own goals, there’s little doubt the next iterations of its commercial staples will be electrified.
And not necessarily petrol-electric, by the way. “Potentially you could have hybrid diesels,” Hanley said.
Rival Nissan this week confirmed there are plans to eventually add a hybrid option to its Navara line-up. In an interview with media during a visit to Australia in early September, a senior Mitsubishi executive – who is now at senior partner Nissan – also said the next generation Triton would have the option of hybrid power.