EV U-turn: Aussie drivers to have choice with new electric, hybrid utes

Under Australia's new policy, utes are expected to produce 50 per cent fewer emissions by 2029.

They were supposed to "end the weekend" but much to the contrary, electric vehicles continue to gain traction in Australia. While former prime minister Scott Morrison was widely mocked for his EV fear mongering ahead of the 2019 federal election, a new fleet of utes is aiming to leave his infamous claim in the rearview mirror once and for all.

Utes have stalled in the race to adopt hybrid and electric cars, and experts say the arrival of more environmentally friendly models in Australia has been further delayed by a lack of regulation. But we could be about to pull the handbrake on that trend with three electric and plug-in hybrid utes expected to launch in Australia this year, and another three low-emission models slated to arrive in 2025.

The LDV eT60, pictured, was the first electric ute available in Aus.
Australia’s first electric ute, LDV eT60. Source: Zecar

There' no doubt that Australia's love affair with utes is as powerful as their towing capacity, accounting for more than one in every five new vehicles sold. However the sale of electric or hybrid utes in Australia has been virtually non existent to date.

“It’s not going to tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot,” Mr Morrison claimed just a few years ago, in comments he has since backed away from.

RELATED: Electric utes can now power the weekend – and the work week

There's no denying the nation's devotion to large motors has presented a sizeable challenge when it comes to reducing transport emissions. The first EV ute in the Australian market – the LDV eT60 – notched just 79 sales with reviewers suggesting it didn't quite meet the requirements of many Aussies.

"EV utes have been slower to develop, even internationally, because they're larger vehicles but we are seeing progress and it's exciting to see them coming to Australia," Solar Citizens acting chief executive Joel Pringle told AAP over the weekend.

Lower emission utes announced for an Australian launch include a plug-in hybrid version of the country's top-selling vehicle, the Ford Ranger, as well as hybrid utes from BYD, GWM, and LDV. Isuzu also confirmed it would bring its electric ute to Australia, and a local distributor, AusEV, announced it would convert Ford's electric ute, the F-150 Lightning, to a right-hand drive model for sale in Australia this month.

A EV ute pictured towing boat.
More high-powered EVs are heading to Australian roads. Source: Facebook

Australia's coming vehicle efficiency standard already working

RMIT University lecturer Liam Davies says the announcements show Australia's New Vehicle Efficiency Standard is "a policy success" even though it's not due to come into effect until 2025. It will set emission caps on automobile fleets, with targets starting in 2025 that increase until 2029.

"Under the system that will end soon, vehicle sellers in Australia have had no requirement or incentive to sell efficient vehicles, whereas they do in other jurisdictions," he said.

"Manufacturers are responding to the efficiency standard exactly as the standard is designed."

While limits on utes and other commercial vehicles were relaxed in the government's final proposal, they will mandate that new utes produce 50 per cent fewer emissions by 2029.

New EV and hybrid utes tipped to head Down Under

  • Ford F-150 Lightning: The electric version of Ford's large pick-up truck is yet to get a local launch date but distributor AusEV is taking expressions of interest for converted right-hand drive models, with availability this month.

  • Ford Ranger PHEV: A plug-in hybrid version of one of Australia's most popular utes is scheduled to launch early in 2025. The 2.3-litre four-cylinder vehicle could deliver a modest electric range of 45km.

  • GWM Cannon Alpha: Australian motorists will be offered a diesel or a plug-in hybrid version of this sizeable ute when it arrives in coming months.

  • Isuzu D-Max Electric: Revealed at the Bangkok International Motor Show, Isuzu has confirmed its electric ute will be launched in Australia, though has yet to lock in a release date.

  • BYD Shark: The plug-in hybrid ute, tipped to arrive in Australia late this year, has been spotted on roads in Mexico and Australia.

  • JAC T9: The new Chinese brand will bring its T9 diesel ute to Australia this year but has announced plans to follow the launch with a plug-in hybrid version in 2025.

  • LDV Maxus: The company that delivered the first electric ute to Australia says it will bring this follow-up electric model in early 2025. It will be a four-wheel drive, replacing its two-wheel offering.

  • Toyota HiLux Revo: The popular brand tested this two-wheel drive hybrid ute in Australia to evaluate how it handled local conditions. Its release has yet to be confirmed.

  • Hyundai Ioniq T10: The automaker recently trademarked the name of its electric ute in Australia, though it has yet to confirm details or launch plans.

with AAP

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