Toyota's current product strategy predicts multiple powertrains for key models in different markets.
Toyota is hard at work on a new Tacoma pickup truck ahead of an anticipated reveal later this year, but CarBuzz has reason to believe the next-generation model will spawn electric and hybrid versions of the truck sharing the same design language and underpinnings.
We've already seen what is believed to be the next Tacoma, thanks to leaked patent filings at the Brazilian intellectual property office, with a design inspired by the Tundra. The truck revealed in those patents is clearly a combustion-powered truck as it shows a traditional upper and lower grille, which would be absent on an electric variant.
However, upon further inspection, this is not the first time we've seen this design.
In December 2021, Toyota and Lexus revealed 16 EV concepts, announcing a new electrification plan for the future while not abandoning combustion and hydrogen power. One of those concepts was an unnamed pickup truck, whose design is an exact match for the patent filings with the exception of the grille, which has been replaced by a textured, body-color panel.
The possibility exists that it was merely a design study that influenced the new Tacoma and possibly the global market Hilux, which is rumored to share underpinnings with the new Taco, but we have reason to believe this is not the case.
Among the 16 EVs Akio Toyoda presented to the world was a compact crossover with a sloped roofline dubbed the Small SU EV. In September last year, patent drawings revealed a production version of this concept with traditional grilles. In December 2022, Toyota unveiled the C-HR Prologue concept with the patent's design exactly. This will preview a new generation of C-HR not bound for the US market, and its design will remain largely unchanged.
At the time, Toyota confirmed the new C-HR would arrive in traditional ICE form but that it would be joined by both hybrid and battery-electric versions.
Toyota seems dead set on the strategy of marketing one vehicle with different powertrains depending on the market it's sold in.
This train of thought suggests that the forthcoming Tacoma/Hilux will get the same treatment. Electrification is yet to take hold in the midsize truck segment, but with Ford trademarking the Ranger Lightning name, we know it's just a matter of time before mainstream OEMs go electric in the segment.
Toyota America bosses have previously told CarBuzz that the brand will not pursue electric trucks until the infrastructure to power them is adequately developed, which means a Tacoma EV may be reserved for countries in Europe and Asia. Toyota has already revealed a Hilux-based electric pickup in Thailand, suggesting that it may be one of the markets targeted for the new electric truck.
As for America, combustion will continue to be a core powertrain for Toyota, but hybridization is expected too. The Tundra already has a hybrid variant, which was the compromise needed to provide the full-size truck with diesel-like torque yet comply with strict emissions standards. For that reason, we believe the 2024 Tacoma will arrive stateside in both ICE and hybrid forms, but the electric truck isn't a shoo-in for an American launch.
A new Tacoma is expected to be revealed before the end of 2023, with more details expected before its market launch as a 2024 year model.
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