Toyota could introduce electric, plug-in Tacoma and Tundra pickups

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NEW YORK — Toyota Motor is evaluating an expansion of its U.S. truck lineup that could include all-electric or plug-in hybrid electric versions of its Tacoma and Tundra pickups.

Jack Hollis, executive vice president of Toyota Motor North America, said the Japanese automaker is assessing its options to determine what makes the most sense based on expected customer demand and tightening federal emissions and fuel economy regulations.

“I do think there’s room to grow our entire truck footprint. Whether it be Tundra, Tacoma or something else in addition to the lineup,” Hollis told CNBC on Tuesday during the New York Auto Forum conference. “Whether that’s a compact or something else, I think it’s important for us to continue to see what the customers are looking for.”

Toyota has previously discussed a broad lineup of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, including a midsize pickup model like the segment-leading Tacoma. The latest conversations have introduced the potential for plug-in hybrid vehicles, or PHEVs.

Toyota earlier this year said it would invest $1.3 billion in a Kentucky plant to produce a new all-electric, three-row SUV for the U.S. market. The automaker’s Thailand president this week confirmed Toyota will produce a BEV of its small Hilux pickup for global markets, according to Reuters.

A Pearl White Toyota Hilux 2.8 D-4D.

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Hollis said the electric Hilux is “very cool.” He declined to speculate whether Toyota could bring that vehicle to the U.S.

He confirmed, however, that the company is “looking into both” BEV and PHEV versions of the Tacoma and full-size Tundra. The Tundra was last redesigned for the 2022 model year, followed by Tacoma last year.

“We’re in the evaluation of both. There are reasons why a BEV can work and there’s a reason why PHEV can work,” he said, in posing the question, “What’s the best mix of those based upon each of those two trucks or even for 4Runner or Sequoia [SUVs]?”

There are currently five all-electric pickup trucks on sale in the U.S., but they remain priced more so as luxury vehicles than mass-market models. Their prices range from $50,000 to easily more than $100,000, and sales of the vehicles have largely slowed after automakers rushed all-electric pickups to market.

There are not any plug-in hybrid electric pickups currently on sale in the U.S. Stellantis’ Ram brand is expected to release an “extended-range” plug-in vehicle with an electric generator powering an engine later this year.

Toyota is one of several automakers reassessing its product portfolio amid slower-than-excepted adoption of EVs, and in light of the Biden administration’s revised emissions rules that aim to better take into account hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

José Muñoz, Hyundai president and global chief operating officer, told CNBC on Wednesday the company is reevaluating its plans to exclusively produce all-electric vehicles at a new plant under construction in Georgia.

“Everything is on the table,” Muñoz said. “We will adjust to the market demand and, for the time being, we are on track for what the regulators are requesting.”

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