Toyota shows off Hilux hybrid prototype at Safari Rally Kenya

At this year’s Safari Rally Kenya, Toyota had a hybrid Hilux prototype do demonstration runs to show that hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) technology can be a practical approach to achieving carbon neutrality in markets like Africa. According to Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda, “it is important to do what we can do right now – immediately – according to the local environment. We think what we can do in Africa is to increase HEVs”.

Toyoda had made a request for one of the legendary rally drivers, Juha Kankkunen, to drive the Hilux MHEV. Kankkunen, who won 4 WRC titles and 23 rallies, also drove a hydrogen-fuelled GR Yaris during Rally Belgium last year to demonstrate the technology under development.

Full technical details are not known at this time, but preliminary information is that the hybrid drivetrain will use a 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine with an additional 48V battery, small electric motor-generator and other components. This is said to offer approximately 10% fuel economy improvement, compared to the current 2.8-litre turbodiesel variants.

The Hilux Hybrid with 48V technology is now undergoing testing with market introduction set for the first half of 2024.

In addition to improved fuel economy, the 48V technology will also enable a stop/start system, improved driveability and reduced noise, vibration and harshness. Toyota stresses that the addition of 48V technology will not have any impact on the capability of the Hilux.

The model will be an important one as it provides one approach in the carmaker’s multi-pathway strategy towards carbon neutrality. Not wanting to leave any customer behind, Toyota wants to develop different solutions for different regions taking into consideration their economic state. It does not believe that focussing entirely on fully electric vehicles is the best solution and that HEVs can be adopted faster in places like Africa and even ASEAN.

At the end of 2022, Akio Toyoda (when he was the company President) gave a sneak preview of a battery electric pick-up truck concept during the 60th anniversary celebration of Toyota Motor Thailand.

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