By on December 13, 2010

Toyota may have won a near-monopoly on modern hybrid drivetrains over the last decade, but at least until recently its Hybrid Synergy Drive has been limited to use in car and crossover applications. Sensing the vulnerability, GM, Chrysler, Daimler and BMW collaborated to develop a large V8-based hybrid system capable of powering large light-duty trucks. The resulting “Two-Mode” hybrid system has largely proven to be a bust, as BMW and Mercedes have limited its use to one-time X5/X6 and ML Hybrids. GM and Chrysler have tried to sell Two-Mode versions of their full-sized trucks and SUVs with little success over the past several years, as relatively low fuel prices and high MSRPs conspired against the hybrid truck segment. Now Toyota may be targeting the hybrid pickup market, as its Hino truck unit has begun testing a hybrid drivetrain for light-duty trucks that it hopes to commercialize by net year. reports:

The hybrid system, which features a clutch between its engine and motor, offers an all-electric drive mode for the truck. Internal Hino testing showed an improvement in fuel efficiency of a diesel truck by about 50%.

Testing by the Japanese postal service, and several private firms should give a better sense of the efficiency benefits of this system, but that will still leave the question of price. And gas prices. And America’s willingness to buy pickups from Toyota in Detroit-like numbers. On the other hand, it’s not safe to underestimate any Toyota hybrid. If this new drivetrain can do for trucks what Hybrid Synergy did for cars, things could get interesting…

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10 Comments on “Hybrid Toyota Pickups Coming?...”

  • avatar

    This begs a few questions.
    1. Will it be available in the Tacoma, or only in the Tundra?
    2. Can I get it in a truck that costs less than $25K?
    3. Will the system survive a trailing expedition at Moab?
    4. Can the system survive even some basic work at a construction site?
    With 3 and 4, I’m sure it’s robust, but I still can’t help but question just how robust it is.

    I, personally, would prefer that they ditch the hybrid drivetrains altogether and simply shrink the trucks. I looked at a Ranger yesterday, and, though I’ve long stopped seriously considering the truck, just sitting in it at the dealership was like a revelation. It was great to see a vehicle with a real floor-mounted shifter, small dimensions, no CD/climate control/MP3 player/power windows hooey. Simple, basic, bomb-proof mechanicals. No attempts to be “carlike” to appease the Edmunds critics. Etcetera. The same old song everybody’s been singing on the car enthusiast forums for what seems like forever.

    I’ve looked at many a modern Tacoma and they just aren’t the same, even if they’re similarly sized. The old Tacomas were joyful inside and out, with soft-touch plastics but minus the Camry truck feel of the new ones.

    Apologies for the digression, but I feel like all this hybrid crap could be ditched if they’d only trim a thousand pounds off their trucks and give people the option of a four-cyl turbodiesel.

    • 0 avatar

      A better question to ask is if it will be available in a pickup format at all, or just in Hinos (some of which were available on the U.S. market, but nowhere in quantities of Prius or Tundra).

    • 0 avatar
      Tree Trunk

      1 or the Hilux
      2 if it was in the Hilux
      3 if you it is not broken you are not trying hard enough, but seriously, added weight and possible vulnerabilities would not make any hybrid system a first choice for off roading.
      4 the hybrid system have worked will in commercial vehicle like taxis, but the questions is towing which is normally not recommended

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “GM and Chrysler have tried to sell Two-Mode versions of their full-sized trucks and SUVs with little success over the past several years, as relatively low fuel prices and high MSRPs conspired against the hybrid truck segment.”
    Well, we are back at $3/gal. again and going up. I thought that GM’s problem with the hybrid was marketing not technology. They needed to put it a set of models and not put it on the show room floors against cheaper non0hybrid trucks. E.g. they should have put it in the Escalade and GMC, but not in the Suburban and other Chevy trucks. The technology is good and they will need it soon, they should go for it.

  • avatar

    Hasn’t Hino been selling hybrid trucks for a while?

  • avatar

    Luigiian:  I don’t see your points 2 and 3 happening in the same ‘new’ truck. 

    I have been 4X4 truck shopping (for used) and it is almost impossible to find the truck you describe.  The Ranger is close but it is no truck for the family man.  The Tacoma quad cab can be had in a manual, but at almost new truck prices. 

    I’m thinking natural gas for the future – at least here in the west.  Diesel mpg in trucks seem to be very over rated. 

  • avatar

    I’d take a hybrid 4Runner.  I love mine, but I’d gladly take 26mpg instead of the 22mpg I’m regularly getting.

  • avatar

    As one of my jobs in energy, I’ve been involved in some form or another in the Hino hybrid truck programme for more than 5 years. There are small test fleets dotted all over the world. Our job has been collating the data and auditing the trials.
    Hino have recently taken their second order to switch an entire city-based delivery fleet here in Australia; they’re doing it quietly but there won’t be any slowing it.
    Non-Toyota/Lexus/Hino hybrid players are literally 5-8 years behind. Watch for a full hybrid assault shortly.

  • avatar

    FYI it was never in the X5, just the X6.
    I’m not sure whether the Active7 is two-mode or not.

  • avatar

    Really depends on what the hybrids are for and the limitations.  Would construction companies use these?  How about people who tow their big boats or horse trailers etc.?
    If people don’t want to pay for high gas prices, they won’t pay the money for a hybrid truck that costs a lot either.  Why by a hybrid truck if you can get away with a car that gets better mileage if you don’t NEED the truck?  I think Toyota will find that out if the put this in the truck market.  People who need a truck will have to determine if the hybrid fits their needs at the cost of the hybrid system.  People who don’t need trucks won’t by the hybrid system with high gas prices.
    If this can be put into industrial trucks, or trucks that do a lot of stop and go, like what GM did with city buses, it would be a good thing.  Postal service trucks are a good start too, but most of them are very small light weight vehicles.  Not exactly a job someone needs a Tundra for.

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