As debate over electric utes heats up in Australia, Isuzu has confirmed it is working on an electric version of the D-Max. That’s right, one of Australia’s top-selling utes will be available with the option of electric power by the end of this decade.

Japanese brand Isuzu has confirmed overnight an electric version of the  D-Max will be sold alongside future diesel models in Australia.

A concept car has been unveiled ahead of the Bangkok Motor Show later this month.

The announcement comes as the Federal Government is considering introducing the most stringent vehicle emissions reductions scheme in the world.

News of an electric Isuzu D-Max is significant because utes are widely considered the most challenging vehicles to electrify given their mix of long distance and off-road use, 3.5-tonne towing capacity, and high load-carrying limits.

It is a dilemma that is unique to Australia because utes were our Top Three selling cars last year – the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux and Isuzu D-Max.

There are electric versions of large US pick-ups in North America, but they are typically used as family cars and rarely used at their peak towing or load-carrying capacities.

Which is why although the Isuzu D-Max will eventually have the option of electric power, it is expected to have some limitations compared to today’s diesel models.

Preliminary information shared by Isuzu has revealed an estimated maximum driving range of about 300km when unladen (versus 700km for diesel versions), due to its relatively modest 66.9kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

Isuzu says the electric D-Max will be powered by two electric motors – 40kW for the front wheels and 90kW for the rear wheels – with a combined output of 130kW and 325Nm.

Although Isuzu says it will be capable of carrying up to 1 tonne and towing 3.5 tonnes, its maximum driving range would be drastically reduced when fully loaded, which would require more frequent recharging.

While exact timing for the electric version of the Isuzu D-Max is yet to be announced for Australia, in a statement issued overnight Isuzu Japan said: “Launching in select mainland Europe markets such as Norway in 2025, D-MAX [electric] will be rolled out to the UK, Australia, Thailand, and other countries based on market needs and the maturity of [electric vehicle] charging infrastructure.”

A statement from Isuzu Ute Australia said: : “As part of our due diligence, [Isuzu Ute Australia] will continue to monitor [Australian] market requirements, including the reception of hybrid and [electric vehicles], and work with the factory to provide a product mix to meet Australian consumer needs”.

While a number of electric pick-ups are available in the US – such as the Ford F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer, Chevrolet Silverado, Tesla Cybertruck and Rivian R1T – for now there is only one electric ute on sale in Australia, the Chinese made LDV eT60, priced from $92,990.

However the LDV eT60 is only two-wheel-drive (not four-wheel-drive), and has a maximum driving range of 300km in ideal conditions when it is empty – and just 150km of driving range when fully loaded.

Electric versions of the top selling Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger utes are understood to be in development.

However both models are not expected in showrooms until closer to 2030 – as part of the next-generation Toyota HiLux range and as part of a mid-life update to the Ford Ranger.

In the meantime, Ford is planning to offer a plug-in hybrid version of the Ranger, which will blend turbo petrol power with short range electric propulsion.

Preliminary data released by Ford indicates the Ford Ranger plug-in hybrid will have up to 50km of electric-only driving range combined with at least 500km of petrol driving range.

Ford says the Ranger plug-in hybrid will still be able to tow 3500kg and carry a decent load, however driving range will be greatly diminished once it is used at capacity.