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Hybrid and electric utes are heading down under

Once upon a time the Aussie ute was a simple utilitarian vehicle for farmers and tradies that could cart anything they needed to move during the week, and a farmer and his wife to town on the weekends.

Times have changed. Today, dual cab 4-wheel drive utes are Australia’s favourite set of wheels – a “Swiss Army knife” of a vehicle that can work hard for the tradie on weekdays, do the shopping later, and take the family camping on the weekend. We can’t get enough of them.

They’re not without their critics, though, and one charge levelled against the suburban behemoths is excessive fuel consumption. That’s starting to change, however, with some carmakers responding to the demands of the global fuel efficiency standards that Australia’s finally signing on to, by offering utes with hybrid, or even pure electric power trains. Several of them are heading our way this year.


Chinese maker BYD has taken the EV market by storm with its attractive and innovative vehicles. It’s about to shake up Australia’s ute market with a dual cab 4-wheel drive with plug-in hybrid power in the second half of this year. The details are still sketchy, though it’s known that BYD has been testing its plug-in hybrid ute in Australia. It will probably be powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine with two electric motors, producing a total of 365kW. BYD isn’t stopping there either, because an all-electric ute is also in the pipeline, probably for 2025. With BYD’s short but impressive track record in Australia, you can expect their utes to be competitively priced.

Fellow Chinese maker GWM is also introducing hybrid power to its latest ute, the Shanhai Cannon, which will mate a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine to an electric motor. It will have on-demand 4-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission. GWM has made huge strides in quality and features in recent years, with each new model a significant step-up from the previous one.

Improved LDV

On the subject of taking huge strides forward, LDV is promising a quantum leap with its new electric ute. It will need to. Its first attempt, the eT60, was an utterly underwhelming effort. Its new ute is based on its Maxus GST concept. It promises 600km of range, 746kW of power from its 4 motors, peak torque output of 14,000Nm and a 0-100km/h time of “around three seconds”. It will also feature vehicle-to-load, allowing you to plug in small appliances and run them from the ute’s battery. How much the vehicle that lands on our shores differs from the concept’s mind-blowing promise is yet to be seen.

JAC is a Chinese newcomer planning to introduce a range of utes this year. They include a turbo diesel, a hybrid, and an all-electric, the JAC Hunter, from 30 dealers around the country. The latter offers 500km of range from an 88kWh lithium iron phosphate battery pack. And in an era when too big a ute is barely big enough, it promises to be bigger than the Ford Ranger Wildtrak.


Not to be outdone by the onslaught of Chinese competitors, Toyota is introducing 48-volt mild hybrid technology to its Hilux. A mild hybrid combines a conventional engine with a small generator in place of a starter motor, and a lithium-ion battery. It’s designed to help the engine, boost acceleration, and improve stopping and starting. Toyota claims it will offer a 10% improvement in fuel economy, though that might seem a somewhat “mild” offering in the face of its Chinese hybrid and EV competitors.

That’s just the start of the innovative utes heading our way in future years, as vehicle makers respond to fuel emission standards that are soon to become mandatory in Australia. It’s unequivocally good news for motorists who can look forward to better vehicles to drive that are cheaper to own, and easier on the planet.

Written by
Mark Schneider

Mark is a successful copywriter with over 20 years of professional writing experience.

We welcome him as a guest blogger to Fleettorque.

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