South Africa’s bakkie landscape can expect a major shake-up this year, as there are at least three different models with an electrified drivetrain expected to touch down on local roads, with more potentially in the works.
This time last year, there wasn’t a single hybrid or electric bakkie in the country, but this is something that is rapidly changing with South Africa already having access to its first battery-electric double cab – the Maxus T90 EV.
Since then, four carmakers have announced their intention to bring either an electric or plug-in hybrid bakkie to the tip of Africa, including Ford, GWM, JAC, and Toyota.
New power, same utility
The first new-energy double cab coming to South Africa will be a mild-hybrid (MHEV) version of the sought-after Toyota Hilux.
The Hilux, along with the Fortuner SUV, are receiving a new powertrain in March that pairs the brand’s 2.8GD-6 turbocharged diesel engine and six-speed automatic gearbox with a small electric motor and 48V-volt battery.
This adds 12kW and 65Nm of boost when accelerating from a standstill, an “advanced” Start/Stop system, and regenerative braking abilities; and reduces the idling speed to 600rpm as well as fuel consumption by as much as 10%.
The flagship double cab was launched last year with a single turbo-diesel engine, and the automaker now plans to follow this in 2024 with electrified plants as well as a turbo-petrol unit.
Unfortunately, the launch window for both electrics is still to be announced and details for the PHEV are thin on the ground, though we know it will use a 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol plant with a 26.8kWh battery and can achieve a low average fuel consumption of 3.3l/100km.
The BEV, on the other hand, recently popped up in China, revealing that it uses a 70kW/176Nm front motor and 160kW/342Nm rear motor, and is powered by an 88.02kWh giving it a range of 500km.
The final entry that will appear later this year is a PHEV version of the Ford Ranger, though not in the way you may expect.
The new-energy Ranger will be produced locally at the brand’s Silverton plant for export to markets including Australia and New Zealand, but the Blue Oval has yet to confirm whether it will go on sale in South Africa.
When asked about the possibility of a domestic introduction at a recent media event, Ford’s domestic subsidiary said that it is “not going to talk about that right now” – hinting that there may be plans down the line to make the Ranger PHEV available.
The bakkie employs a 2.3-litre, turbo-petrol engine with an 11.8kWh battery and a 75kW motor, and can drive for roughly 45km on nothing but electricity.
The carmaker has spent R5.2 billion to prepare its facility for the new model’s production, which is scheduled to take effect in late 2024.
One more unit worth mentioning is the GWM Shanhai Cannon, which was recently confirmed for a South African introduction in the second half of the year.
Like with the JAC T9, the Chinese carmaker is following a strategy of only releasing the double cab with turbo-diesel and petrol plants at launch, and will debut a hybrid and battery-powered option at a later stage.
Given that the bakkie is only arriving later in 2024, it’s likely that the PHEV and BED models will only come to South Africa in 2025 and beyond.