Last December, Toyota revealed a one-off electric pickup truck concept in Thailand called the Hilux Revo BEV Concept, based on the globally ultra-popular petrol- and diesel-powered Hilux. Evidently, it's not done with that concept quite yet, and it has me wondering what Toyota might be up to on the electric truck front. 

Last week, Toyota flew that same model to Australia for some additional testing, and to get some input from local large-volume Hilux fleet customers. “Our evaluation engineers and industry partners have confirmed that this city-focused Hilux BEV – while very much a concept vehicle – looks, feels, and drives like a production model,” Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s VP of sales, marketing & franchise operations, said in a statement. 

In case you missed the initial announcement, the electric truck looks identical to the gas-powered Hilux, except for a few key differences: it has a closed-off grille with slim air vents, a charging port on the front left wing/fender, and BEV badging all-around. It doesn’t scream that it’s a BEV (and in fact, feels like something akin to the old RAV4 EV rather than something entirely new) but look closely and you will notice that it is indeed one.

It makes sense for Toyota to focus on these markets. The Hilux, after all, has been the best-selling pickup truck in Australia for the past seven years with more than 64,000 units sold in 2022 alone. In Thailand, where it’s wildly popular, Toyota sold a whopping 145,000 units in 2022.

Gallery: Toyota Hilux Revo BEV

What does this indicate about Toyota’s electric truck plans for the U.S.? That's certainly unclear. The Japanese automaker might be playing catch-up in the BEV race, but that doesn’t mean that a new electric truck isn’t on its way.

"We need to be realistic about when society will be able to fully adopt BEVs and when our infrastructure can support them at scale. Just like the fully autonomous cars that we were all supposed to be driving by now, BEVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream,” former Toyota president and current chairman Akio Toyoda said last year.

Going by the current electric pickup truck trends in the U.S., or lack thereof, it seems like Toyota isn’t necessarily missing out on a lot. The electric trucks currently available are expensive, and demand isn’t great. General Motors delayed the start of production of the Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV to 2025, indicating a lack of demand and the need for engineering upgrades. Ford has raved about the F-150 Lightning’s increasing production capacity earlier this year, stating “an annualised [production] rate of 150,000 units by this fall.” However, it sold only about 3,500 units in Q3 2023 (down 46 percent year-over-year) and recently announced temporary layoffs in a shift at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center due to supply chain issues. Many people seem to be the most excited about the Tesla Cybertruck, but it’s not even really on sale. And we still don't know how much it will cost.

In 2021, Toyota flaunted a “Pickup EV” concept that looked like an electric Tacoma – the U.S.' most popular midsize truck. That same year, the brand also confirmed that battery electric powertrains would extend to the pickup truck line-ups as well. It has since added hybrid to the Tacoma and full-size Tundra.

Toyota Tacoma EV.

Now, Toyota did briefly show off an EV truck concept that's pretty clearly a Tacoma in late 2021. And even though it doesn't even exist, it proved popular in a survey involving over a dozen EVs, where it ranked second. Toyota has also confirmed 10 new BEVs by 2026, and one of them will likely be a US-bound truck.

We also know that the Japanese automaker is investing heavily in battery technologies to cure range anxiety and advanced manufacturing processes to rationalise costs and streamline manufacturing. One can argue that customers would rather wait for a well-rounded and affordable offering, instead of placing their bets on EVs that were initially promised to be affordable, didn’t end up being so, and got pushed back by a few years.