The 2024 Toyota LandCruiser Prado will finally welcome a hybrid powertrain (though not in Australia, where for now we will persevere with a 48-volt mild hybrid version of the carryover diesel engine), but that seems to be just the beginning of the brand’s green vision.
In fact, the Prado‘s chief engineer, Keita Moritsu, concedes the current powertrain options won’t be enough to see the big SUV make it through to 2030 – given ever-stricter emissions regulations appearing in many of its markets – and says he is already considering a range of alternative powertrains to future-proof the model.
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Speaking at the vehicle’s launch in Japan, Moritsu told media that the brand was studying a BEV, PHEV and fuel cell powertrain for the Prado, but said no decision had been made, and that each powertrain option presented its own strengths and weaknesses.
“Each has difficult points and merit points,” Moritsu told Automotive News. “So we need to think about how to approach under the multi-pathway.”
According to reports, the benefits of a fully electric Prado would of course be unlocking zero-emission motoring, but Moritsu says current battery technology wouldn’t deliver the towing capability required, especially in Australia or the Middle East’s hot summers. While solid-state batteries would help, Toyota’s engineer says that technology is still far off production.
Plug-in hybrids can deliver both driving range and towing capacity, but they still rely on an ICE engine, especially when far away from public charging infrastructure.
Hydrogen fuel cell technology – something Toyota remains a leader in – is another option, but the brand knows refuelling infrastructure is expensive, and currently non-existent.
Another problem, says Moritsu, is that Toyota’s TGNA-F platform, which underpins its US pickup trucks, the LandCruiser 300 Series and the new Prado, isn’t actually designed for alternative powertrain technology beyond a conventional hybrid, meaning changes would have to be made once the brand picks a direction.
“We will try to adjust the platform to accommodate,” Moritsu told media.
But the brand clearly knows a decision is required, as the need to go green won’t be able to ignored for much longer.