While showing the world 15 Toyota- and Lexus-branded electric vehicle prototypes in various stages of development, this week Toyota announced a global investment of $70 billion in the electrification of its vehicle lineup. During the massive presentation, it was clear that the star of the event was the shining white pickup truck, labeled simply as “Pickup EV.” It’s essentially an all-electric Tacoma.
Or at least as far as the U.S. market was concerned. America’s insatiable hunger for crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks has virtually extinguished the market for low-volume vehicles in the non-premium market, steering most efforts in electrification toward the most popular segments. Zero emissions pickup trucks are only enhancing the appeal of the segment, as demonstrated by the fact that 70 percent of the more than 200,000 reservations for the Ford F-150 Lightning, Ford’s full-size electric truck, come from customers who have never bought a pickup before.
Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s President and CEO as well as the event’s MC, did not disclose technical details of any of the vehicles announced, most of which took the stage with fully tinted windows in order to hinder unwanted peeks inside their cabins. Gladly, the Toyota Pickup EV spoke for itself.
The Pickup EV looks almost exactly like the universally loved Toyota Tacoma, the leader in the midsize pickup segment, updated with visual cues of the design language that Toyota calls “technical muscle,” which is the semblance of visual strength achieved by very sharp lines designed to create the illusion that the body is formed by interlocked parts. It works!
By making its first pickup a midsize, Toyota gives global appeal to its first electric pickup and avoids comparisons with Ford’s F-150 Lightning and the upcoming Chevy Silverado EV. Currently, the only other midsize pickup in the market is the Rivian R1T, a more expensive and luxurious electric truck, which is built-in lower volumes than we would expect from any Toyota — but there are more on the way.
The Toyota Pickup EV’s grille is solid because there is not an internal combustion engine to cool down in the engine bay. Consequently, this space will be turned into a giant frontal trunk, or frunk, enhancing the inherent versatility of the pickup design and solving the need for lockable space that affects our current fossil fuel-powered pickups trucks.
We also expect this “electric Tacoma” to offer bidirectional charging capabilities, which would allow its owners to power things, like their houses, with the truck’s battery through a DC to AC converter system embedded in the EV charger. This feature could signify a true blessing during natural disasters and the occasional blackout, while also allowing powering a house during peak hours when the energy is costlier, offsetting the cost of charging the vehicle.
In the world of EVs, power is easy to achieve. To put things in perspective, the Ford F-150 Lightning is expected to pack as much punch as the Ferrari 458 Italia did 10 years ago, at a fraction of the cost. So, without venturing to guess a horsepower figure, we can safely expect the production version of the Toyota Pickup EV to be a very powerful vehicle. We also expect it to offer 4X4 and all-road capabilities, as hinted by the prototype’s raised suspension. Its size and design, however, hints at a friendly vehicle easy to maneuver in urban environments and to live with in general.
The manufacturer announced that with 30 battery electric vehicle models across the Toyota and Lexus brands, it expects to achieve global sales of battery electric vehicles of 3.5 million units annually by 2030. With the likely arrival of the electric version of the upcoming new Ford Ranger expected by mid-decade, the production version of the Toyota Pickup EV should be among the first of the convoy of Toyota’s EV to arrive, hopefully around the same time as the all-electric Ranger. Stay tuned.
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