The Toyota HiLux diesel – Australia’s top-selling vehicle for the past five years in a row and on track for a record sixth victory – is not in danger of extinction despite rumours of a switch to hybrid power.
That’s the message from Toyota Australia’s sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley.
While the high ranking Toyota Australia executive did not go into any detail about when and what type of hybrid power would eventually come to the HiLux – or whether it would be a petrol hybrid or a diesel hybrid – he did say diesel isn’t going away anytime soon.
This is despite the fact Toyota tanked in the recent emissions survey of 4WDs, utes and vans, ranking 19th out of 25 brands in Australia – after cruising to victory in the passenger-car class due to hybrid technology.
“I get asked questions continuously about ‘does (hybrid) spell the demise of diesel’?” said Mr Hanley. “Well, not real soon I would suggest.”
“But … we’ve spoken about the need to reduce our (emissions) footprint, (and) our hybrid strategy is well understood I think in the market.”
Mr Hanley said it is “not beyond possibility that we will expand hybrid and (utes and vans) going forward”.
“I went on record today saying that we would never rule out expansion of hybrid across the (light commercial vehicle range),” said Mr Hanley.
“We’re seeing (hybrid technology) in the Kluger soon, we’ve seen in the RAV4, we’ve seen it in the small car market, (and in the) small SUV segment,” he said.
When asked about the timing and the possibility of a hybrid HiLux, the executive said: “Fit for purpose cars, right?”
“We don’t have any announcement or specifics today, but (a hybrid HiLux) is not something we'd ever rule out.”
One of the big questions that was left unanswered: would a future HiLux have petrol hybrid or diesel hybrid power?
Toyota currently does not offer a diesel hybrid in its passenger and light commercial vehicle line-up, but there is diesel hybrid tech in its Hino truck division.
Toyota Australia product manager Rod Ferguson said: “(Diesel or petrol hybrid) is part of the mix of considerations, so the pathway to have light commercial vehicles hitting that low emissions direction, there’s a number of options. There’s a number of ways to do it. And the timing will be quite different to passenger cars, but there are a lot of options.”