Electrified bakkies coming to South Africa

It may surprise many that only one electrified bakkie — the Maxus T90EV — has made it to South African shores, considering the popularity of the vehicle type in the country, but this will soon change.

Two carmakers have announced their plans to launch fully electric or hybrid versions of their bakkies in South Africa in the near future, and a third has yet to confirm whether theirs will be sold in the country.

Bakkies are prolific in South Africa, with models like the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger frequently featuring among the most popular cars in the country.

At the same time, electrified vehicles are starting to increase in popularity in the country, with fully electric (EV), traditional hybrid (HEV), and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sales increasing significantly in 2023.

During its State of the Motoring Industry event on Thursday, 25 January 2023, Toyota South Africa revealed that 931 new fully-electric vehicles were sold in the country last year.

This represents an 85% increase over the 502 units sold in 2022. HEV and PHEV sales also surged by 60% and 119%, respectively, in 2023.

The table below shows EV, HEV, and PHEV sales in South Africa from 2018 to 2023.

New energy vehicle sales in South Africa
Year Fully-electric (EVs/BEVs) Traditional hybrid vehicles (HEVs) Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) Total
2018 58 55 89 202
2019 154 181 72 407
2020 92 155 77 324
2021 218 627 51 896
2022 502 4,050 122 4,764
2023 931 6,495 267 7,693
Latest increase 85% 60% 119% 61%

Electrified bakkies destined for South African shores include JAC T9 Hunter plug-in hybrid and battery electric models and a mild hybrid Toyota Hilux. Both are set to go on sale in South Africa this year.

A third electrified bakkie — Ford’s Ranger PHEV — will be built in South Africa, but the company has yet to confirm whether it will be sold locally. It is set to launch in early 2025.

More details on what to expect from these bakkies are provided below.

JAC T9 Hunter

Until now, Chinese carmaker JAC has only sold diesel-powered T9 Hunter bakkie models, but this will soon change.

The company plans to expand the bakkie’s drivetrain options to include a plug-in hybrid derivative and a fully electric version.

JAC plans to launch the fully electric version of the bakkie in 2024, but it hasn’t specified exactly when.

The carmaker hasn’t provided much detail on the vehicle’s specs but claims it can travel up to 400km on a single charge.

Depending on the double cab’s launch price, it could prove popular among South African motorists.

Toyota Hilux Mild Hybrid

Toyota will launch its first electrified Hilux bakkie in South Africa in March 2024 after announcing the variant in June 2023.

The Hilux’s drivetrain will use a 48V mild hybrid system and a 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine. The hybrid system’s battery provides a power output of 12kW and 65Nm of torque.

It will use a motor-generator rather than an alternator, which Toyota said provides better throttle response and more linear acceleration.

It will also feature regenerative braking, which Toyota “tuned to create a more effective and natural deceleration feel”.

The electrified Hilux will be the first to support Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select system.

“The system automatically calibrates the vehicle to regulate power and wheel spin in order to enhance traction and manoeuvrability,” said Toyota

“The driver can select one of five pre-set options: dirt, sand, mud, deep snow or rock.”

Toyota will offer the mild hybrid drivetrain with high-end Hilux Raider and Legend Auto models.

Not confirmed for SA: Ford Ranger PHEV

In September 2023, Ford announced its plans to launch a plug-in hybrid version of the popular Ranger bakkie, which it anticipates will go on sale in early 2025.

The PHEV’s powerplant comprises a 2.3-litre EcoBoost turbo petrol engine, an 11.8kWh battery, and a 75kW electric motor.

“It can be driven in pure electric mode for more than 45 kilometres, without using a drop of fuel or producing tailpipe emissions, helping customers save at the pump,” Ford said.

The carmaker has confirmed that the PHEV Ranger will be sold in Australia and New Zealand. However, it has not said whether it will launch the electrified bakkie in South Africa.

The electric range, combined with the fact that it will feature Ford’s Pro Power Onboard system, would likely make it popular among many South African motorists.

The range would be sufficient for many South African commuters, who travel an average of 44km between home and work every day, and the Pro Power Onboard system could serve as a potential load-shedding backup.

Ford Ranger PHEVs destined for New Zealand and Australia will be built at the Silverton Assembly Plant in Tshwane, and the company is investing R5.2 billion to upgrade the plant to accommodate its production.

“For the first time in about two decades the Silverton plant will also be supplying vehicles to Australia and New Zealand, as it will be the source market for the Ranger Plug-in Hybrid for these countries,” said Andrea Cavallaro, operations director at Ford’s International Markets Group.

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Electrified bakkies coming to South Africa