Daihatsu Rocky hybrid planned, to debut later this year

It looks like Daihatsu is planning to roll out a hybrid version of the Rocky SUV later this year. According to a Nikkei report, the move will mark the automaker’s second attempt at hybrid technology, and the electrified powertrain is tipped to be co-developed with its parent company, Toyota.

Daihatsu’s last hybrid model was the Hijet mini commercial vehicle, the sale of which ended back in 2010. The automaker has traditionally been wary of offering higher-priced hybrid models to its main customer base, choosing to focus on weight reduction and improving its internal combustion engine to achieve the best fuel economy.

But last year, the Japanese government outlined an ambitious plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and part of the plan is to completely eliminate the sale of petrol vehicles by 2035. With that, Japanese automakers are expected to ramp up electrification efforts, and the Rocky hybrid in particular will offer between 20% to 30% better fuel economy, Daihatsu said.

Daihatsu Rocky hybrid planned, to debut later this year

This will come at a cost, though. The Rocky hybrid could be priced several thousand US dollars more than the regular 1.0 turbo variant. The good news is, the hybrid powertrain won’t be a rudimentary stop-gap system with a tiny battery.

The report said Daihatsu and Toyota have developed a full-fledged hybrid system where the electric motors alone can provide propulsion with the engine completely turned off. No technical details have been revealed yet, but the engine, lithium-ion battery, electric motors and other components have all been optimised for the DNGA platform.

For now, it’s unclear if the Rocky hybrid will be sold in other markets. In Japan, minicars and minitrucks account for roughly 30% of new vehicle sales. Electrifying the segment will see emissions reduced significantly, contributing to Japan’s carbon neutral goal. Daihatsu’s rival Suzuki also offers hybrid vehicles, but most of them use a simplified system that do little to improve fuel efficiency.

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