A test drive of the Toyota HiLux Revo BEV electric ute brought Down Under to star in Toyota Australia’s recent future product showcase has “100 per cent” increased the chances of a possible future production version being sold in Australia.
At the same time, Toyota Australia is ramping up its interest in the hydrogen fuel-cell electric (FCEV) HiLux recently unveiled in the UK.
The Revo EV test drive was conducted by Toyota Australia sales and marketing vice-president Sean Hanley at the company’s Altona facility.
The vehicle’s local stay has since been extended for a month to enable further study by Toyota Australia evaluation engineers.
The Revo was first unveiled by Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda in Thailand last December.
Hanley had extolled the virtues of diesel utes and downplayed the capability of battery-electric drivetrains at a media preview of the showcase moments after the Revo was unveiled.
But after his drive Hanley, one of the most senior Toyota Australia executives, was much more enthusiastic about the Revo, which is a single-cab HiLux with a 4×2 powertrain offering about 300km of range.
It’s understood Hanley had an LDV eT60, Australia’s first electric ute, on-hand to drive the Revo back-to-back with, although he refused to confirm that – let alone make any comparative judgements.
“When you drive a prototype you don’t expect it to be perfect, but this car was… road-ready,” Hanley said of Revo.
“It has its capability limitations – it’s not a car you’d take out in the bush. It’s a car you’d strictly drive in the city.
“But it just showed me how advanced we were. I was pleasantly surprised how well it drove. The torque was great, the drive itself was wonderful, the braking was good, it held on to the road perfectly.
“It’s a great city car and a car of the future.”
Asked if his test drive had convinced him there was a sales niche for a HiLux EV like the Revo in Australia, Hanley replied:
“One hundred per cent I am [convinced].
“I had not driven that car when I spoke about it the other night. I was surprised at how advanced that vehicle was and how drivable it was for a concept prototype vehicle,” he said.
“The good news is we are going to keep that vehicle here for a while and extensively test it.”
Hanley said a HiLux EV had a potential market with city-based fleet operators such as councils, which are increasingly keen to acquire low- and zero-emissions vehicles.
“I wouldn’t be taking it to Thargomindah and back,” he joked, alluding to his contention that diesel utes such as the newly-launched HiLux GR Sport remain the only way to tour and tow across the Australian countryside.
Hanley stressed there were no plans for a production version of the Revo come to Australia and said he had no confirmation it would enter production.
Toyota has announced a battery-electric ute will go into production in Asia by the end of 2023, but there is no confirmation the Revo is the same vehicle.
Development of the HiLux FCEV is a Toyota UK project that Hanley admitted he knew nothing about until queried by media at the product showcase.
“I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes. I strongly have a sense hydrogen has a role in the Australian market in a big way.
“I say that because of the purpose of the vehicles we bring in and where they are driven.
“We know that hydrogen delivers range, we know hydrogen can take heavy loads, so I think for commercial vehicles that have serious off-road requirements hydrogen in the future is a good path for Toyota to explore.
Ahead of the Revos local arrival, Toyota Australia sent evaluation engineers to Thailand to inspect it. Hanley admitted the same might be possible with the UK project.
“Our product planners will certainly get involved with that vehicle now. We’ll start to get the initial testing [underway], what it is and what it represents.
“In the fullness of time hopefully we will be able to get access to it.”
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