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By Callum Hunter
The best of both worlds is coming to the dual-cab ute market.
Ford has confirmed it will introduce the first workhorse powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain when the Ranger PHEV arrives in Australian showrooms in 2025.
The blue oval has revealed details of the petrol-electric dual-cab four-wheel drive ute, promising muscle car levels of performance while offering significant gains in fuel efficiency with the ability to drive on battery-power alone.
Due to arrive in Australian showrooms in early 2025, the Ford Ranger PHEV features a unique 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol four-cylinder paired with an electric motor sandwiched between the combustion engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission.
It has yet to confirm key details, such as specific power and torque figures, but it is expected to produce outputs that match – or beat –the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 in the high-performance Ranger Raptor.
Ford executives have, however, admitted the Australian-based engineering team has a target to achieve at least 45km of electric-only driving range and that it will maintain a 3500kg maximum towing capacity, 1000kg payload and 800mm wading depth.
Key to achieving the latter parameters, the Ranger PHEV will feature a newly developed heavy-duty rear suspension set-up to manage the additional weight of the lithium-ion battery pack located under the tub in a unique safety cell.
The new suspension is supported by a reinforced rear frame, recalibrated power steering system and a bespoke tune for the internal combustion engine to help the Ranger PHEV manage a traditional load in the tray as well as its new motive hardware.
Like other plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, the Ranger PHEV will feature vehicle-to-load (V2L) functionality – dubbed ‘Pro Power Onboard’ – which provides owners access to the battery’s stored energy via a pair of 240V three-pin power points in the tray and another within the cabin.
This will allow tradies to plug in their power tools and for recreational off-roaders and caravaners to use a broad range of accessories and appliances.
A maximum output for the system is yet to be confirmed but material seen by carsales during the product presentation suggest it will be good for at least 1500W.
Speaking to Australian media at a pre-reveal event for the Ranger PHEV, Ford executives are confident the plug-in hybrid system is the best compromise between the various forms of electrification – including 48V mild-hybrid, which is coming to the Toyota HiLux soon, and full-electric, as seen on the LDV eT60 – for Aussie customers.
“Our goal, as always, is to provide our customers with next to no compromise – a solution that delivers 3.5-tonne towing, impressive payload, the go-anywhere, do-anything capability that our customers expect, including remote off-road use without the dependence on charging infrastructure, and to future-proof the Ranger around the globe we need to meet ever-tightening emission regulations and comply with EU green zones,” said Ford’s global truck chief strategist Matt Reilly.
“The only technology that currently meets all of these needs is PHEV.”
As such, the Ranger PHEV will offer drivers a suite of 10 unique modes that tailor the engine, transmission, and electronic driving aids to suit a wide variety of conditions. On top of the familiar Normal, Eco, Tow, Slippery, Mud/Ruts and Sand modes, the plug-in will have EV Auto, EV Now, EV Later and EV Charge settings.
These EV-specific modes operate literally as their names suggest; EV Auto controlling the blend of the petrol and electric performance via the computers; EV Now operating exclusively on battery power; EV Later using the petrol engine only to save the stored energy; and EV Charge using the petrol engine and regenerative braking to re-fill the battery while on the move.
Trim levels for the Ranger PHEV and pricing premiums over equivalent internal combustion variants are still to be confirmed, but the first images showcase a high-end Ranger Wildtrak Plug-in Hybrid with a dual-cab tray back body style.
Expect the Ranger PHEV to launch at the top end of the range, although Ford has indicated the huge potential it has for fleet operators, which means it will almost certainly be offered in lower grades as well.
The Australian engineering and design of the Ranger is one of the ute’s greatest strengths, and the PHEV version has undergone the same development.
“All of the physical vehicle testing has been conducted in Victoria at our proving ground,” Reilly said.
“Obviously we get some support from our global engineering counterparts, but we are the lead for the engineering and all that testing has been done in Australia.”
It’s not yet clear whether the Ranger Plug-in Hybrid will be produced alongside other variants in Thailand, or whether it will be sourced from another factory such as in South Africa, where the related Volkswagen Amarok is produced.
A PHEV version of the VW Amarok is also anticipated, using the same powertrain as Ranger, but there’s no confirmation yet that a plug-in hybrid version of the related Ford Everest SUV will be developed.
Ford says its full battery-electric technology isn’t ready – or suitable – for the local ute market, so while the Ranger will be the first in class to score a PHEV system, it could be one of the last to go full-electric.
While there is only mild-hybrid power confirmed for HiLux at this stage, Toyota is expected to offer a battery-electric version with its next-generation ute due in a few years’ time.
Both hybrid and EV versions of the new-gen Mitsubishi Triton are also in the pipeline and Kia has hinted its first dual-cab, which is expected to be called the Tasman, will be offered with a battery-powered flagship variant when it arrives in 2026.
Chinese brand LDV is currently the only car maker to offer a dedicated electric dual-cab ute in Australia with its eT60.
Disclaimer: Images supplied by Ford Media Centre.
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