This mild-hybrid Hilux is the first time Toyota has added electrification tech to a diesel engine.
While Toyota has been busy electrifying everything in its lineup, it had yet to actually touch its venerable (and purportedly indestructible) Hilux. Though it does seem that it has come time for even this traditionally oil-burning pickup truck to gain some green tech, with a tentative first step being made recently through the introduction of a mild-hybrid variant.
A variant that is essentially born by Toyota fitting belt-driven integrated starter-generator (ISG) to the Hilux’s existing 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine and a 48 V battery pack under its rear bench, the Japanese automaker has stated that this new electrified addition will contribute an additional 16 hp and 65 Nm of torque to the existing 204 hp and 500 Nm output of the existing boosted oil-burner.
There is however no mention yet from Toyota about how this new bit of electrified assistance will alter the quantitative accelerative potential of the Hilux. Though it has been hinted by the automaker for this mild-hybrid technology to be capable in delivering better throttle response and linear acceleration, while its now standard regenerative braking (that is the primary mode of charging the battery) will also create a more effective and natural deceleration feel.
It has further been highlighted by Toyota that off-road performance of this pickup will be improved as well from this electrified upgrade. Such is thanks to the motor generator power allowing for smoother acceleration when negotiating rough terrain and regenerative braking supporting safer downhill manoeuvring, while the engine’s idling speed being reduced from 720 rpm to 600 rpm enables the driver have better control of the vehicle when crawling over rough terrain too.
Moreover, said improved off-road performance with this Hilux has to do in large part with the new Multi-terrain Select system. A first for this pickup, this new bit of electronic kit supposedly gives the driver the option to adjust vehicle stability control settings according to the specific driving conditions. This can be set to an automatic setting, or the driver can choose one of five pre-set options – Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow or Rock – calibrated to regulate power and wheel-spin to enhance traction and manoeuvrability.
Toyota also proudly touts that attention has been paid to ensuring that this elected Hilux possesses formidable water-crossing capabilities, with the bold claim of it being capable drive through water up to 700 mm deep thanks to waterproofing of the 48 V battery and DC-DC converter. Those who consistently ford rivers in their pickups too will be glad to know that anti-slip and strengthening measures have been implemented on the motor generator pulley and belt to ensure optimum performance, even when wet.
Though of course the main benefit of this 48 V hybrid system is the supposed increase in efficiency, which Toyota currently claims for fuel economy of this electrified Hilux to be up to 5% better compared to the conventional non-electrified diesel powertrain. Toyota is also touting for its efficiency and driving performance enhancements from its electrification to come with no compromise on towing and payload capacity of the Hilux, ‘which remain exceptional at 3,500 kg and 1,000 kg respectively’.
And while on the subject of weight, the supposedly heavy battery of the mild-hybrid system only weighs a surprisingly light 7.6 kg. Rather surprising too is perhaps the fact that Toyota is currently hinting at this mild-hybrid system to possibly be expanded into its Land Cruiser and Proace lineup as well.
Getting back to the Hilux however, this new electrified variant is currently set for launch around mid-2024, with prices set to carry a small premium over its purely diesel drinking counterparts. There has unfortunately been no word yet on the timeline of this hybrid pickup making its way over to Malaysia, if ever at all.
As for further electrification plans with the Hilux meanwhile, Toyota has stated at this point for this mild-hybrid option to be the extent of it. So those hoping for a full PHEV or even EV Hilux to rival the current Ford Ranger PHEV and the multitude of fully-electric pickups respectively will likely have to wait till the Japanese automaker launches its Land Cruiser EPU concept, or funnily enough bring its recently-revealed H2 Hilux prototype into series production.