Toyota showed off an electric Ford Maverick-sized truck concept at the Japan Mobility Show this week. Is the Toyota EPU, or Electric PickUp, the midsize electric pickup we’ve been waiting for?
For over three years, Toyota has been “secretly” developing the midsize EPU electric truck. Toyota built the model as an in-house design study, and executives “liked it enough that they wanted to put it in the Tokyo Show,” according to Kevin Hunter.
Hunter is president of Toyota’s design research center in California. He told Automotive News at the event that the company wanted to ensure the concept didn’t “look like a toy.”
Hunter said Toyota wanted it to “look like a robust product.” He added the concept is “capable,” despite no mention of powertrain or battery specs.
Although other concepts like the Land Cruiser Se stole the show, Toyota’s EPU could find a market as an electric alternative to Ford’s popular Maverick in North America.
Toyota EPU is 200 inches long, 75 inches wide, and 67 inches tall, nearly identical to Ford’s Maverick (200” L, 72” W, 69” H). Like the Maverick, the EV features a low center of gravity to improve handling.
Will Toyota take on Ford’s Maverick with the EPU?
The rugged style is almost reminiscent of Ram’s first EV, the 1500 REV. It includes an extra deep 4.5-foot long bed that can extend to 6 feet with an innovative tailgate design.
For additional space, the second-row seating and front of the bed can be folded forward to provide up to 8 feet of hauling space.
Like Ram’s concept, the EPU includes a passthrough beneath the center console to haul long items (like lumber) up to 12 feet long.
Hunter said, based on the reaction from event attendees, “it’s a different kind of buyer” than the Tacoma. However, he added, “It’s just super, super functional, and it’s not intended to overlap [the Tacoma] at all.” It’s designed for those looking for the utility of a pickup without the extreme off-road features.
Although the Toyota EPU could provide a viable electric alternative to the Ford Maverick, the concept will likely never see the light of day. And if it does, it would be several years before we see it hit the market.
Toyota has been teasing electric concepts for years that would make sense to go into production but have had little to no mention since.
It’s more likely in that time frame that Ford will introduce its own electric Maverick. However, Ford is also pushing back around $12 billion in EV manufacturing investments.
Perhaps we will hope for Rivian’s second-gen models to fill the gap. Rivian’s R2 EVs are expected to start around $40,000, with production slated for 2026.
Although Toyota’s North American leadership is pulling for the model, it has yet to be approved by Toyota in Japan. An executive from Toyota North America told Automotive News that there were still several issues that needed to be worked out, including cost. The executive said, “We’re fighting for it.”
Meanwhile, Toyota’s first electric truck prototype to hit the streets, the HiLux BEV, was put through the paces in Australia earlier this month as part of development.