Toyota's EPU concept hints at production-ready mini-Hilux
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Toyota's EPU concept hints at production-ready mini-Hilux

Toyota has unveiled a new 'EPU' concept pickup - which looks remarkably like a production-ready mini-Hilux

The construction of the EPU — which we presume stands for 'Electric Pick Up' — differs from the full-sized Hilux, with a unibody design rather than the traditional body-on-frame configuration. Its smaller stature is aimed at the lifestyle market, where customers want the flexibility of a pickup without the compromised driving dynamics and economy of a bulky workhorse.

Beyond being a pure-electric vehicle, Toyota has been tight-lipped about what might drive the EPU, but with 218hp and 337Nm of torque, the twin electric motors and 71.4kWh battery pack which power the bZ4X SUV could be an excellent option, suiting the lifestyle and urban market well.

Concept models are often adorned with some rather outlandish additions, such as oversized wheels or acutely angled spoilers, but the EPU exterior is devoid of such frippery, giving it the feel of being production-ready. The interior, however, has a more future-led design vibe. The instrument panel and infotainment systems are housed in an ultra-wide single display screen set into a minimalist dashboard. The steering wheel also has a futuristic feel, with the yoke-style wheel appearing to be a development of that found in the bZ4X.

Being electrically powered, Toyota doesn’t have to work around a large engine or bulky running gear, so it has been able to extend the wheelbase on the EPU to 3,350mm, potentially giving more room in the cabin than the current Hilux despite being 255mm shorter overall. Coming in at just 1.71 metres tall, the EPU looks similar to the US-market Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick, giving an insight into just where Toyota might be pitching the new offering.

In pickup terms, the cargo area is pretty small, but a modular tailgate that can be split horizontally effectively extends the load bed while retaining a vertical guard to secure any cargo.

Where something a little larger is needed, Toyota is currently testing an electric Hilux, and for those needing that security of greater range alongside the pulling power, the manufacturer has recently unveiled its first hydrogen-powered pickup truck.

More details will likely be revealed at the Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo, where the EPU and other future-looking concepts from Toyota will be displayed.

You can lease the diesel-powered Toyota Hilux with Select Van Leasing from £314 per month, ex VAT*. 

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David Hughes

Friday, 17/05/2024