Smaller than Hilux: Toyota previews new compact electric ute

Jet Sanchez
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Is the Toyota EPU close to production?

Is the Toyota EPU close to production?

Toyota has given us a sneak peek into its electrified ambitions, previewing a new concept dubbed the EPU, hinting at a new compact electric ute smaller than its iconic Hilux.

The EPU, with its moniker presumably shorthand for "Electric Pickup," is set to debut at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show.

Toyota EPU concept

Measuring 5,070mm long, the EPU is notably shorter than the Toyota Hilux (5320mm in double-cab configuration), yet its design isn't merely a scaled-down iteration. Its dimensions might be diminutive compared to the larger utes in Toyota's global lineup, but the EPU doesn’t compromise on space or functionality. With a wheelbase stretching 3350mm, it indicates a thought-out spatial design aimed at optimising both passenger and cargo space.

Toyota EPU concept

The exterior design of the EPU concept is refreshingly devoid of the often eccentric aesthetics associated with concept vehicles, suggesting the EPU is close to production. This underpins Toyota’s apparent readiness to delve into the compact ute market, potentially locking horns with contenders like the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz.

Another standout feature is its double cab design and unique deck space catering to a broad range of user applications, hinting at its utility-centric design. A two-piece tailgate provides easy access to the rear deck, accommodating a wide variety of user preferences and supporting diverse mobility lifestyles, particularly those inclined towards outdoor adventures.

Unlike its rivals, the EPU boasts a unibody construction, setting a distinctive stance in a segment brimming with body-on-frame designs.

Beyond its external allure, the interior of the EPU is a peek into the future, adorned with large display screens, a minimalist dashboard, and a yoke-style steering wheel.These features hint at modern and simplistic design choices, perhaps catering to the millennial and Gen Z audiences who are known for their penchant for sleek aesthetics coupled with ample tech toys.

Toyota EPU concept interior

The EPU is a departure from a previous mid-size electric ute concept that Toyota showcased a few years back, which bore more resemblance to the new 2024 Tacoma for the US market.

While the full powertrain specifications are yet to be released, Toyota assures that the EV's packaging ensures a low centre of gravity for "superior handling stability and ride comfort," hinting at a performance-oriented electric compact ute that doesn’t compromise on driving dynamics. In any case, we'll know more about Toyota's new ute when the 2023 Japan Mobility Show begins this week.


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