Is This the Toyota EV Truck Coming to the U.S.?
Toyota has recently sent its electric pickup “concept” down to Australia for further testing. However, several testers say that it looks, handles, and feels like a production truck. So, is it? Here’s what we know about the EV pickup concept and what the evaluation teams Down Under have to say.
About a year ago, Toyota put the spotlight on its Hilux Revo BEV concept truck. If it looks like a production Hilux, other than the powertrain, that’s because it is. “Under the skin, this vehicle is powered by Toyota’s EV-related technologies developed over more than a quarter of a century, including batteries, motors, inverters, and power-control units,” said Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s VP of sales, marketing & franchise operations. Why Toyota doesn’t build the Hilux here is a different story for another time.
What did Toyota change on this Hilux EV concept?
Anyway, Toyota brought its Hilux concept to Australia to show it off and have several fleet buyers give their thoughts. “Our evaluation engineers and industry partners have confirmed that this city-focused Hilux BEV – while very much a concept vehicle – looks, feels, and drives like a production model,” said Hanley.
While not identical to a production Hilux, there are a few visual changes. They include the blocked-off grille, a big charging port in the front fender, and subtle BEV badges sparkling around the Fleet White body. It’s almost like Toyota is trying to keep this on the down-low.
Toyota says the Hilux is the best-selling vehicle in Australia, much the same as the Ford F-150 in the U.S. It is sold in Australia but also in Thailand and Oceania markets. So, to sell it here means it must come from here to avoid the U.S. chicken tax penalty.
Is Toyota testing a Tacoma EV, too?
While that almost certainly won’t happen, could the EV driveline easily adapt to a Tacoma? Absolutely. The Hilux and Tacoma are close enough that results from testing the Hilux Revo BEV will apply to a Tacoma EV truck. Don’t forget Toyota was showing a Tacoma EV back in 2021.
Something that may slow down the release of an EV pickup is the dropping sales of electric vehicles in general. And specifically, the Ford F-150 Lightning. Just yesterday, GM made an announcement that it is pushing back the Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV to the latter part of 2025. Both were supposed to be in production now, with sales beginning by mid-2024.
How hard is Toyota pushing for electrification?
So, what was once imperative that all truck makers get in on the EV bandwagon is no longer so intense. We argue that price has everything to do with the slowdown of expensive (and heavy) EV trucks. And let’s be honest, Toyota is not exactly embracing the switch to electrification, though it knows there is demand for one.
To wit, there are now Hilux hydrogen prototypes for the UK government in development. It is an experimental program, but it shows that Toyota is still not all-in on EVs. There are several drawbacks to using hydrogen, but that isn’t stopping Toyota from continuing down that road.