Move over Toyota, this Japanese electric pickup takes aim at Ford’s F-150 Lightning

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A new Japanese all-electric EV pickup is set to hit global markets, and it’s a Toyota. Isuzu will unveil its first 100% electric pickup truck, the D-MAX BEV, later this month. The rugged-looking 4X4 EV will compete with Ford’s F-150 Lightning in overseas markets.

A new Japanese EV pickup is launching

After introducing its new D-Max truck in Bangkok last fall, Isuzu President Shinsuke Minami said the company is “actively taking efforts to realize a carbon-neutral society.”

Going forward, “Isuzu plans to produce a BEV pickup truck in Thailand,” Minami explained. Thailand is the Japanese automaker’s largest market for pickups and demand for EVs is soaring in the nation after introducing new incentives.

Although Thailand is key, the D-MAX is sold in over 100 countries and regions, including Europe, Asia, The Middle East, and Central and South America.

Isuzu’s pickup was the second best-selling model in Thailand in January, behind only Toyota’s Hilux. Toyota unveiled its first “electrified” version of the best-selling Hilux in December. However, it still featured a small hybrid system attached to a 2.8L diesel engine.

Toyota-electric-pickup
Toyota HiLux BEV electric pickup (Source: Toyota)

Toyota showcased an electric version, called the Hilux Revo BEV, in Thailand in 2022, but little has been revealed since.

Although the electric Toyota pickup was spotted testing in Australia, the boss of Toyota Europe’s light commercial vehicles division, Emmanuel Beaune, said in December, “It’s too early to comment” on an electric Hilux. He added, “There are some investigations.”

While Toyota continues to delay, Japanese rival Isuzu is plowing ahead. Isuzu will officially unveil the new D-MAX BEV truck at the Bangkok International Auto Show, starting March 27.

Isuzu’s new EV pickup is built for “a broad range of commercial and passenger vehicle needs.” The model keeps its rugged exterior design and “tough underlying performance expected of pickup trucks,” according to Isuzu.

The D-MAX BEV features a 4WD system with newly developed e-Axles on the front and rear for improved performance on rough terrain.

Isuzu’s first EV pickup features a “high towing capacity” of over 7,700 lbs (3.5t) and 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) payload. The electric truck is powered by a 66.9 kWh lithium-ion battery. A 40 kW front and 90 kW rear motor provide up to 130 kW (174 hp).

Isuzu D-Max BEV specs
Drive System Full-time 4×4
Battery Type Lithium-ion
Battery Capacity 66.9 kWh
Max Output 130 kW (174 hp)
Max Torque 325 Nm
Max Speed Over 130 km/h (+80 mph)
Max Payload 1,000 kg (+2,200 lbs)
Max Towing Capacity 3.5t (+7,700 lbs)
Isuzu D-Max BEV electric pickup specs

The Japanese automaker plans to launch the new D-MAX BEV pickup truck in select European markets, such as Norway, starting in 2025. It will also roll out in the UK, Australia, Thailand, and other countries.

Isuzu’s electric pickup will follow Ford, which delivered its first F-150 Lightning in Norway last month. Ford is taking the Lightning overseas with plans to launch in additional European markets, including Switzerland.

Electrek’s Take

Toyota is missing an opportunity here. Rival Japanese automaker Isuzu looks to beat Toyota to market with its first all-electric pickup.

Although the D-MAX was behind Toyota’s Hilux in sales, it was almost too close to call, with 9,354 Hilux and 9,325 D-MAX trucks sold in January. Toyota’s hesitation could put it further behind as EV makers like BYD are quickly gaining market share in the region.

BYD’s Dolphin and Seal EV were the sixth and seventh best-selling models in Thailand in January. After entering the market in July 2022, BYD already accounts for a third of the nation’s EV sales. It also held a 4% share of new vehicle sales, including gas-powered and electric.

Other Chinese automakers, like Geely’s Radar, are beginning to roll out in overseas markets. According to CarNewsChina, the Radard R6 EV pickup had 61.5% of the electric pickup market in China last year. Radar began exporting R6 models late last year.

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