The local arm of the global giant is studying the hybrid system and how it performs in the US to determine if it would be a good fit for our market
Toyota has confirmed it is studying a hybrid powertrain for the next-generation Land Cruiser Prado as customer testing of the new Tundra gets underway, offering Aussies their taste of the brand’s hybrid systems in a light-commercial application.
Speaking with Chasing Cars following the release of the sales results for 2023, Toyota Australia vice president of sales, marketing and franchise operations Sean Hanley said hybrids were being seriously considered for its more heavy-duty vehicles.
“We don’t have any announcements in relation to hybrid Prado but it’s certainly something we’re looking at. We’re studying that engine and its capability in the US to determine what its suitability would be for this market,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that at some point, we’ll have to look at that technology.”
Toyota America was the first market of the global brand to launch a hybrid system in its light commercial vehicles, starting with the Tundra full-size pick-up – which is currently on track to be introduced to Australia, armed exclusively with this petrol-electric drivetrain, likely sometime next year.
The Tundra makes use of a 326kW/790Nm 3.5-litre twin-turbo-petrol V6, mated to an electric motor, though a less powerful 243kW/630Nm setup was previewed last year for the new midsize Tacoma ute featuring a 2.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine as its basis.
Asked if Toyota Australia’s experience testing the hybrid-powered Tundra on local soil gave confidence that a hybrid-powered Prado would work in Australia, Mr Hanley said “it certainly has”.
“We’ve often said that a hybrid could work, particularly in those heavy vehicles. It’s practical and you’ve got no range anxiety,” he said.
“We’re committed to offering some form of electrification across all Toyota models by 2030 and that includes commercial vehicles”
The 2.4-litre-based I-Force Max system is planned for introduction globally in the Lexus GX, the Prado’s more luxurious sibling, before it’s expected to make its way to the next-generation Toyota model.
With increasingly stringent emissions standards being rolled out in key markets such as Europe, and Australian government policy not too far behind, hybrid engines are increasingly being seen by the industry as a viable replacement for heavy-emitting diesel engines.
Importantly, these hybrid systems are capable of towing up to 4.5-tonnes in the Australian-spec Tundra, and will likely support the new-gen Prado’s expected 3.5-tonne towing capacity in full.
The Prado will launch in mid-2024 motivated exclusively by the tried-and-tested 1GD-FTV 2.8-litre turbo-diesel, producing the same 150kW of power and 500Nm of torque as the current model.
It differs, however, by offering a 48-volt system – which will debut on this engine with the Hilux ute later this year – and is expected to ease fuel consumption in urban areas.
Toyota has been vocal about the fact it does not classify this 48-volt assistance as a hybrid system, or even mild-hybrid, but it does mark an important first step.
Although the release date is still a ways off, Toyota has stressed that it only wants to launch when it has adequate supply, with customer demand expected to be strong.
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