- Climate hub
- 5 Jul 2022
- 5 min read
When will EV utes arrive in New Zealand?
Kiwis love EVs and we love utes – how long will we need to wait for good electric ute options to arrive on our shores?
By Amy Hamilton Chadwick
We love utes – with 40,000 sold in 2021, they’re our favourite type of vehicle.
“New Zealand is the land of the ute,” says Jonathan Sergel, General Manager, AA. “Kiwis just love the versatility of a ute – they’re supposed to be tool of the trade, but you see more on urban streets than you do lugging around toolkits. Ten years ago a ute was a workhorse, but now they drive like a car and they have all the same features, with a tray on the back.”
Kiwis also love EVs, with a massive 345% jump in the sale of battery electric vehicles between 2020 and 2021. But right now, anyone in the market for a fully electric ute is out of luck, despite indications that demand could be high.
“New Zealand is also the land of SMEs - builders and plumbers, self-employed tradies. I think EV uptake among SME owners could be quite decent,” says Sergel. “As with passenger vehicles, there will be an interesting cross-session of buyers, from the environmentalists to the frugalist to the innovators.”
As an extra bonus, an electric vehicle could potentially be able to provide a power source for recharging tools or boiling on the kettle at a worksite: “When the battery for a tool runs out, plug it into the ute – it makes a lot of sense,” Sergel adds.
First to market: the LVD T60 electric ute
The very first full-electric ute on the market in Aotearoa will be the LDV T60, a two-wheel drive ute with an 88.5kWh battery and an expected range of around 325km. These have been available for preorder since earlier in the year, and Genesis is on the waiting list for one. Delivery is set for ‘summer 2022’, which is likely to mean December or perhaps early next year. As for pricing, at least one model will be eligible for the $8625 clean car rebate, which means it will need to have a driveaway price under $80,000.
The T60 will have a payload capacity of 980kg and will be able to tow up to a tonne. However, heavy loads and towing will decrease the range by 50%.
“There will always be compromises with electrification,” says Sergel. “It could be on tow ratings – if you throw a quart of wood on the back, that’s going to put a lot more demand on the drive train.”
But range anxiety shouldn’t hold back the average tradie, he says: “I recently did I renovation on my house and all the tradies drove here, parked on the road, and drove home at night. It was point-to-point driving, so range wasn’t a concern.”
What about an EV Ranger, EV Hilux or EV Triton?
When will we see electric versions of our two favourite utes, the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Hilux?
We can say with some confidence that Ford is embracing fully-electric utes, with its F150 Lightning rolling off the production line. Ford reportedly took over 200,000 reservations for the F150 Lightning, creating a three-year backlog, and the manufacturer now plans to double production volumes in 2023.
A fully-electric Ranger is likely to be the next BEV truck off the line, according to some industry gossip. But it may be a plug-in hybrid Ranger that reaches our shores first, with a PHEV Ranger forecast to arrive within the next 12 to 18 months. Either way, a BEV or PHEV Range will probably arrive in our market within about two years, says Sergel – the stumbling block is that we currently source Rangers from Thailand, and it could take time to either source them from somewhere else or swap out the ICE plant for an EV one.
“There are big questions for manufacturers in that space,” he points out, “and New Zealand is the smallest drop in the biggest bucket when it comes to car sales. We drive on the wrong side of the road, too, as far as manufacturers are concerned. We also homologate in the same basket as Australia, so if a car is not going there, it’s not coming here.”
If you’re happy to try a PHEV, the new-generation 2023 Toyota Hilux will probably come in a hybrid option – most likely to be a diesel-electric hybrid engine. A fully-electric Hilux is possibly part of Toyota’s future BEV line-up, but this is far from definite.
Mitsubishi has reportedly announced that a next-generation PHEV Triton will launch in Australia in 2022 or early 2023, which means it could potentially be available in New Zealand shortly after that, although there’s been no official comment. The Triton will share a platform with the Nissan Navara, so that might be produced at around the same time.
Could we get a Rivian or Tesla EV ute soon?
New EV brand Rivian stirred up interest here when two vehicles arrived for winter testing in Queenstown. The R1T ute is available in the USA, and in 2019 a spokesperson said it would be developed for right-hand drive markets, but no word yet on when it might arrive.
As for Tesla, it reportedly has an incredible 1.3 million reservations for its Cybertruck, the ‘ute of the future’. However, reserving a Cybertruck is no longer an option outside the US and delivery there has been delayed until 2023, so a right-hand drive version is probably still at least 18 months away.
More EV ute options within a year
Anyone who is in the market for a new ute should think hard before buying an ICE vehicle right now. Interest in EVs has never been hotter, particularly as fuel prices rise, meaning manufacturers are scrambling to bring ute options to market to capitalise on pent-up demand.
“I think you’re about a year away from having good choice,” says Sergel, “and that’s not that far away in terms of a horizon, so if you’re interested in buying an EV ute, it’s worth waiting.”
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