Update: ‘Design’ section updated and ‘Expected Interior & Features’ section added.
The first-ever Tacoma Hybrid has arrived, but that may not yet be the peak in terms of the level of Tacoma’s electrification. Toyota may look to go one step further and release a fully-electric Tacoma later, as it had indicated with the ‘Pickup EV’ concept in the BEV strategy announcement on December 14, 2021. Here’s everything we know about the potential first-ever Toyota Tacoma Electric so far:
The conceptual Toyota Tacoma Electric truck looks similar to the gas-powered model, but several visual changes set it apart. It features sharper headlamps with a vertical extension. There’s a closed-off hexagonal radiator grille with honeycomb-shaped surfaces on the panel between the headlamps. The horizontal LED fog light bars below the faux radiator grille also look like they originated on the 2023 Tundra. Save for the styling parts, the exterior looks more or less the same.
The Tacoma EV appears to sit quite high from the tarmac. The ground clearance could be around 10 inches, putting it in the same territory as the Tundra! The design team seems to have wrapped the six-double-spoke alloy wheels in 33-35 inch off-road tires. The approach angle also looks ready for the trail. Like in the case of the Ford and Chevrolet EV pickups, expect the Toyota electric truck to launch in everyday, work, and off-road specifications.
The concept’s overall design is realistic, and the production version should not stray from what Toyota has shown with the concept. We made minor changes to the electric truck concept, such as normalized bumpers that focus less on approach/departure angles, tires more suited for everyday conditions, steps to enter and exit with ease, a charging port cover on the front fender, and a shark fin antenna. We’ve also used single-tone body paint, added parking sensors, and tweaked the headlight for realism. We’re still a ways off from seeing the electric truck, but it could resemble what we’ve imagined.
The closed-off radiator grille will lead to reduced aerodynamic drag. That would also mean that you won’t see the “TOYOTA” heritage-inspired brand inscription on the front. For the same reason, Toyota would offer power running boards (instead of fixed running boards). As seen in the concept, the company may avoid using a hood scoop. The reduced aerodynamic drag should help the driving range of the EV.
Expected Interior & Features
We imagine that the interior of the Toyota Tacoma EV will likely be nearly identical to the gasoline-powered truck. Expect the same modern-tough theme with chunky yet contemporary elements. The center console could integrate a new, dial-type gear shifter. In addition to the rotary gear shifter, the electric pickup truck may feature a modified 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and more sustainable materials.
Electrically adjustable seats, a power moonroof, dual USB-C ports with 52.5W combined maximum power, and a 10-speaker JBL sound system with a subwoofer and a JBL Flex portable speaker will likely be among the other main interior features. Toyota may launch the Tacoma EV exclusively in a crew cab version, anticipating most customers to prefer that over the extended cab version, along with 5- and 6-ft. bed options.
Lifestyle Electric Vehicle lineup
The Toyota Pickup EV or the Toyota Tacoma EV concept is a part of Toyota’s new lifestyle electric vehicle line-up, consisting of eight models. Simon Humphries, Design Senior General Manager, TMC, briefly explained at the press conference where the company revealed the Toyota Pickup EV concept:
We believe that truly good products create new experiences for the customer, enhancing their chosen lifestyle directions.Simon Humphries, Design Senior General Manager, Toyota Motor Corporation (Media Briefing on Battery EV Strategies, December 14, 2021)
Toyota hasn’t shared details of the Tacoma EV, but it’s safe to assume that it’ll be a conversion of the fourth-gen Tacoma, not a pickup engineered as an EV like the Rivian R1T or the Chevrolet Silverado EV. We also have an informal confirmation from Lexus that the TNGA-F platform that underpins the gas-powered 2024 Tacoma can be used for EVs.
“With modifications (to the platform), that’s something that was considered during the original structural development of the car,” Koji Tsukasaki told MotorTrend while talking about the 2024 Lexus GX. Tsukasaki is the Chief Engineer of the Lexus GX. “The base design does account for the possible use of BEVs,” he added. TNGA-F is a new body-on-frame platform, and it’s likely that it will feature in launches even as far as a decade or possibly two decades from now.
Each electric vehicle should be unique and special, not only those on dedicated platforms but also those related to existing models, whether that means building on Toyota’s off-road heritage to create new exciting recreational experiences or finding new ways to combine versatility with dynamic driving.Simon Humphries, Design Senior General Manager, Toyota Motor Corporation (Media Briefing on Battery EV Strategies, December 14, 2021)
TMC plans to invest JPY 380 billion (USD 2.72 billion) in automotive batteries in the U.S. by 2030. The company will use this investment to develop and manufacture batteries for partially electric and fully electric vehicles. As a result, the Tacoma EV could pack locally developed and built batteries.
Electrified vehicles accounted for 24% of the company’s sales volume (both Toyota and Lexus) in 2022, and this number is likely to grow significantly higher in the future. The Japanese automaker plans to introduce 30 Toyota and Lexus BEVs, including the already-revealed bZ4X and RZ, by 2030. Most of these models should come to the U.S., hence the early battery localization preparations.
Long-lasting batteries would be crucial to ensure durability and reliability, which are the key USPs of Toyotas. During a media and investor briefing in September 2021, TMC said that power output is its focus for HEV batteries and endurance for the PHEV and BEV batteries. Masahiko Maeda, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, said that in the case of the bZ4X, it had set a target of 90% endurance performance.
Release Date & Price
Given that its donor model (fourth-gen Tacoma) will go on sale later in 2023, and the hybrid version isn’t due until next year, the Toyota Tacoma EV should not be expected before mid-decade.
At least 300 miles of range and a starting price of under USD 50,000 would be the general expectation from potential Tacoma EV customers. The smaller Toyota electric truck would rival Ford’s Ranger EV, which could arrive closer to 2025, and the Rivian R2T, that’s expected around 2026, and therefore pricing has to be competitive.
Survey hints at surprisingly high popularity
An electric truck survey of 1,175 current car shoppers Autolist conducted in October and November 2022 (annual truck EV survey) has indicated a high interest in the Toyota Tacoma EV. The F-150 Lightning ranked no.1 in the survey, with 24% of respondents specifying it as their top pick. The Toyota Tacoma EV, a model that formally doesn’t exist and has appeared as a concept at one Japanese press conference, ranked second, with 20% of respondents favoring it. The other models included in the survey were the Tesla Cybertruck, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Ram 1500 EV, GMC Hummer EV Pickup, GMC Sierra EV, and Rivian R1T.
The Tacoma EV turned out to be the most popular choice among non-truck owners in the survey, indicating that it could bring more than just conquest sales, drawing car and crossover customers for Toyota in the way Maverick does for Ford. Among truck owners, it was the second most popular choice. Lastly, of the four age groups in which the survey categorized the respondents: Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers, the Tacoma EV was the most popular choice of Millennials.
Best-selling small truck for 18 years straight
The Toyota Tacoma has been the best-selling small truck for 18 consecutive years, Toyota Motor North America said in its 2022 U.S. sales report. It sold 237,323 units of the Tacoma in the country in 2022, 6.0% lower than in 2021 (252,520 units). In Q1 2023, the company delivered 53,583 Tacomas, 0.8% more than in Q1 2022 (53,182 units).
The Tacoma has been popular in the United States because of its value-for-money appeal and relatively low price tag. It offers the practicality of a daily car and also good towing, hauling, and off-roading capabilities. Toyota would have to protect these traits of the Tacoma when taking it down the path of all-electric.
First Toyota electric truck to launch this year
The first Toyota electric truck will enter production by the end of 2023, Yoichi Miyazaki, Toyota Motor Corporation’s Executive Vice President, announced on April 7, 2023. Likely to be the Toyota Hilux Electric, previewed with the Hilux Revo BEV concept in late 2022, it will be targeted at Asian and emerging markets. Toyota engineers have an opportunity to learn from developing their first electric pickup truck as eventually, every country will demand efficient and capable fully-electrified models in this segment.
The Toyota Tacoma EV could be an affordable electric pickup designed to appeal to customers who find the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevy Silverado EV, and Ram 1500 EV too big, pricey or over-equipped. Probably more important than performance and capabilities will be its affordability and driving range.
Toyota Tacoma EV FAQs
What is the Toyota Tacoma EV release date?
Toyota is likely to launch the Tacoma EV mid-decade.
What will be Toyota Tacoma EV price?
The Toyota Tacoma EV’s prices may start at under USD 40,000.
Which models will be Toyota Tacoma EV rivals?
The Toyota Tacoma EV would compete with the Ford Ranger EV.
Featured Image Source: Toyota Motor Corporation