The Toyota HiLux with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology recently made its in-person debut at the recent WRC Safari Rally in Kenya, ahead of its Australian introduction in the first half of 2024.

    The HiLux GR-S MHEV concept performed two demonstration runs around the Karasani stage, with the ute being driven by four-time WRC champion Juha Kankkunen with Kenyan actor Jimmi Gathu as the co-driver.

    This HiLux mild-hybrid concept had a loud black, white and green livery with ‘hybrid’ plastered along both sides, as well as ‘HEV’ on the tailgate.

    Toyota Australia has specifically gone down the path of not calling this electrified HiLux a hybrid, instead referring to it as the Toyota HiLux with 48-Volt Technology.

    The system combines the existing 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission, and comprises a 48V battery, a small electric motor-generator, and other components.

    It will be standard on all dual-cab 4×4 SR5 and Rogue models in Australia, and optional on the dual-cab 4×4 SR.

    Toyota promises an approximate 10 per cent fuel economy improvement for “certain HiLux models” compared with the existing 2.8-litre sans electrification, as well as improved drivability and reduced noise, vibration and harshness.

    For context, HiLux models with the non-electrified 2.8-litre engine and automatic transmission currently use between 7.5 litres and 8.1 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

    The mild-hybrid system also allows Toyota to offer an automatic stop/start system in the HiLux.

    The company promises that there will be no impact on the ute’s capability. All models with the system will maintain a braked towing capacity of 3500kg.

    “We are continually striving to reduce the fuel consumption of our vehicles to help reduce on-going costs for customers, as well as helping reduce our environmental impact, and the addition of 48-Volt Technology to our biggest-selling vehicle line will contribute to this,” said Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales, marketing and franchise operations Sean Hanley.

    “This new technology will not only improve fuel consumption, but customers will also benefit from enhanced on and off-road performance, making the HiLux even more appealing for a weekend away or longer term excursion into the outback.”

    The ute segment in Australia is still lacking a full-hybrid offering, but GWM is expected to get there first with its Shanhai Cannon due this year. Ford is also working on a plug-in hybrid Ranger.

    MORE: Everything Toyota HiLux

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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