Toyota Australia has all but ruled out a HiLux GR – or an even tougher version of the flagship Rugged X – to compete with the Ford Ranger Raptor, but it is warming customers to the idea of a diesel hybrid future.
“We are always keen to look at any GR product (but) of course we are in the hands of the GR company (in terms of) what will be developed,” said Mr Hanley. “I think customers would be interested in it, I don’t know that we’re getting asked for it, to be honest. However, right now, we don’t have that on the radar.”
When asked if there was room for a HiLux model above the current flagship the Rugged X – which gets off-road enhancements but no changes to suspension, unlike the Ford Ranger Raptor, HSV Colorado SportsCat and Nissan Navara Warrior – Mr Hanley said:
“We don’t have any plans at this point (to go above Rugged X). We have a Toyota conversion centre (in Melbourne that fits Rugged X and Rogue parts) and we’re certainly always looking at the capability and how we can expand that, but we don’t have any plans around that product offering.”
What is more likely to come, however, is the option of diesel hybrid power, likely when the next all-new HiLux is due about 2025.
“We’re not planning to phase out diesel anytime soon, let me make that clear, but obviously we will need to look at all alternatives in relation to this technology,” said Mr Hanley.
“It’s not beyond possibility that we could have diesel hybrids (but) the vehicle needs to be capable. Clearly our customers are saying ‘we’re ok to look at alternatives’, but when start entering the light commercial vehicle space, you’ve got to be able to have the capability to go with it. That’s deeply important,” he said.
Mr Hanley said Toyota was keen to reduce its carbon emissions ahead of any new legislation Australia might introduce.
Australian emissions standards are currently 10 years behind Europe.
“We are keen to reduce our CO2 footprint so hybrid electric for us is important, hence we will have nine hybrid electric models in the Australian market by the end of the first quarter next year,” said Mr Hanley.
“We’re not waiting for government legislation because, quite frankly, as a car company, we know that we have a responsibility to reduce our footprint so we are moving ahead quick, regardless of legislation.
“We understand the challenges of diesel technology going forward, but we also understand the opportunity (with this technology). It’s not impossible.”
He said diesel hybrid technology was likely being developed to meet stricter emissions standards overseas, so therefore it would be relatively easy to adopt in Australia in the future.
“Some countries are quite advanced in their legislation,” said Mr Hanley. “In Australia we understand new requirements are coming as well so we need to be prepared. We don’t have announcements omg diesel hybrids today but it’s certainly an alternative we look at.”