Should This Be Toyota’s First EV Truck?

a car with a surfboard on top of it
Should This Be Toyota’s First EV Truck?Toyota
  • Toyota reveals 2023 EPU concept, previewing a pickup smaller than many of those offered or planned at the moment.

  • The truck, which features a very long wheelbase but still limited cargo area, is almost identical in length to the Ford Maverick.

  • The EPU concept will be exhibited at the Japan Mobility Show alongside other electric concepts from the automaker, including the Land Cruiser Se concept.

Toyota's reveal of a sleek and chiseled Land Cruiser Se concept ahead of the Japan Mobility Show, which immediately drew comparisons to the Range Rover Sport, was not the full extent of the automaker's electric surprises this fall.

Along with the three-row electric Land Cruiser, the automaker also revealed the first glimpses of something that should make Rivian and a few other EV makers nervous.

Dubbed the Toyota EPU concept, the electric pickup truck features an exceptionally long wheelbase of 131.9 inches for something its size, with a short overhang and a modest bed out back hinting at a lifestyle pickup role.

a silver car on a road
The EPU concept is similar in design to the Land Cruise Se concept, which was also previewed a few days ago ahead of the Japan Mobility Show.Toyota

In fact, with an overall length of 199.6 inches, the EPU concept is 0.1 inches shorter than a Ford Maverick, showing just where Toyota is heading with a concept of this type.

The modest footprint of this concept, which looks remarkably production-ready, likely reveals Toyota's thinking: The likes of the Ford F-150 Lightning, Rivian R1T, and the upcoming (delayed) Chevy Silverado EV and Tesla Cybertruck are all full-size offerings, but no other major automaker currently sells a smaller, lifestyle pickup that could be an electric equivalent of the Ford Maverick. Rivian is certainly planning a smaller truck, but it's still a few years away.

It is clear that such a vehicle would give Toyota a tremendous advantage in this particular sub-segment.

If the exterior serves up a few visual surprises, the interior is perhaps only mildly futuristic, for the most part, suggesting this model is quite close to production.

A deep parcel shelf dominates the dash, with a wide screen transitioning into the digital instrument cluster, shaped like a long rectangle.

the inside of a car
The truck’s cabin features a generous parcel shelf integrated into the dash, along with a yoke-style steering currently being introduced by Toyota and Lexus.Toyota

A yoke steering is present as well, but even this detail is not new per se—Toyota and Lexus have already introduced them in production vehicles.

The defining aspect of the interior is just how production-ready it appears, with Toyota even shunning some sort of wingtip and screen system in place of the mirrors on what is nominally a concept truck.

The US electric vehicle market needs such a truck, before we see any other arrivals priced around or well above the $80,000 mark.

The main question is: Are pickup truck buyers ready to go electric?

Toyota's EPU concept will be revealed in full at the Tokyo event next week, and by that time we should get a better idea of when we can expect such a vehicle in North America.

Should this be Toyota's first electric pickup offered in North America, or should the automaker's first EV truck be something larger, similar in size and capability to the Tacoma? Please comment below.