Toyota’s big plans for South Africa – including a hybrid Hilux and Fortuner

 ·12 May 2023

Toyota South Africa (TSAM) has reshaped its roadmap for the domestic market in line with its parent company’s recent strategic realignment to new-energy vehicles (NEV) following CEO Koji Sato’s first press conference at the beginning of April 2023.

Often describing itself as a mobility company, Toyota’s wish is to change the future of cars. In April, it said it would release ten new EV models by 2026 and sell 1.5 million battery electric vehicles annually.

This comes as it aims to “strengthen hybrids and plug-in hybrids” to honour its pledge to halve emissions by 2035 and become carbon neutral by 2050.

According to TopAuto, alongside traditional internal combustion engines (ICE), the company at large has committed to a “multi-pathway approach” for its cars, which will include six powertrain technologies:

  • Battery-electric vehicles (BEV)
  • Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV)
  • Traditional hybrid vehicles (HEV)
  • Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (FCEV)
  • Hydrogen-ICE conversions (H2)
  • Carbon-neutral e-fuel conversions (CN fuel)

In a recent roundtable with local media, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TSAM, Leon Theron, highlighted that there is still a place for internal combustion engines (ICE), and the company is shifting a large part of its focus to HEVs, PHEVs, and other engine conversions over the next few years, reported TopAuto.

Plans for South Africa

First up, local enthusiasts will be excited to hear that Toyota plans to launch a new mild hybrid Hilux and Fortuner in early 2024. A mild hybrid consists of the standard ICE combined with an integrated starter generator and 12-48V battery, which offer a few notable benefits.

In line with this revelation, TSAM noted that South Africans are looking for durable, reliable, and affordable vehicles – unlike Europe, where styling and performance take precedence, or Japan, where compact cars and mini-vans are at the top of shopping lists.

Additionally, with the scarcity of electricity on the African continent, Toyota said BEVs won’t be a practical solution yet for local consumers, noted TopAuto.

Toyota has planned the introduction of the new Toyota Crown in 2023, which has been a Japan-exclusive since 1955 but will now be making its way to other markets, including South Africa, in several body styles.

South Africa is getting the crossover Crown variant driven by a 2.5-litre, parallel-hybrid drivetrain with an output in the neighbourhood of 170kW and a fuel consumption of under 5.0l/100km.

The second HEV that is on the way is a hybrid version of the new Urban Cruiser, said TopAuto.

This makes sense as the co-developed Suzuki Grand Vitara also recently made its debut in the country and brought Suzuki’s first hybridised engine with it. A 1.5-litre, mild-hybrid engine powers the Grand Vitara, and whether Toyota will utilise the same drive configuration remains to be seen.

Plug-in hybrids, TSAM believes, are the ideal solution for South Africa’s unique circumstances, and it, therefore, has three PHEVs in the pipeline.

There are no launch dates yet set in stone, but we know that the plug-in hybrid RAV4, Lexus NX and RX are on their way.

Theron calls PHEVs “the way to go for South Africa” as they bring the best of both worlds – which is being able to use them as BEVs during your weekly commutes and long-distance vehicles over the weekend.

The all-electric range of Toyota and Lexus PHEVs is also set to increase to over 200km in the near future to create what the automaker calls “practical BEVs.”

Finally, at least one or two BEVs are scheduled for a South African launch from 2025 onwards. The confirmed one is the new bZ4X– Toyota’s first fully-electric model.

The name of the other incoming BEV must still be confirmed, but if the silhouette of the teaser image is anything to go by, it could be a pure battery-powered RAV4.

Toyota’s teaser image for its new-energy vehicles (NEV) is below.

Read: Plans to roll out new electric charging network in South Africa

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