This Modified Toyota Hilux Is Built To Combat EV Fires On Any Terrain

The Toyota Hilux is one of the toughest pickup trucks around. It cemented its longstanding reputation for indestructibility after the boys of old Top Gear failed to put the Hilux to an early grave — even after succumbing to a lengthy ocean soaking, explosions, a wrecking ball, and a Viking burial, among others. 

The Hilux's no-frills build quality enables it to survive extreme environments, and this inspired U.K.-based ProSpeed Engineering to use it for its latest project: the Hiload 6x6 Rapid Intervention Vehicle.

The Hiload 6x6 is typically a six-wheeled Hilux specifically outfitted to extinguish electric vehicle fires. With the dawn of electrification, modern EVs produce new challenges for first responders in an accident, specifically if the EV goes up in flames. 

Research shows EV fires are still uncommon and have a .03% chance of igniting, compared to the 1.5% possibility of gasoline cars catching fire. However, EVs could potentially burn hotter and faster than a typical internal combustion car, and extinguishing the flames requires thousands of gallons of water.

Coldcut Cobra system

The ProSpeed Hiload 6x6 may not be as imposing as a standard firetruck, but it has the necessary weapons to combat EV fires. It has the Coldcut Cobra system, a proprietary firefighting tool that can cut through EV floors and inject high-pressure water inside the battery pack, inducing a cooling effect that prevents the fire from spreading. In addition, the Cobra system is safer and more efficient for fire and rescue services, preventing "battery cell propagation" in under 10 minutes while using just 250 liters of water.

Meanwhile, the ProSpeed Hiload 6x6 starts with a regular Toyota Hilux. Then, the vehicle gets a modified chassis stretched by a lengthy 48.4 inches to accommodate all the necessary hardware and two additional rear wheels. The resulting truck has a payload of 6613 pounds, three times that of a standard, four-wheeled Hilux. Moreover, it tips the scales at 12,346 pounds while being no more than 72.8 inches high, enabling it to extinguish fires in underground or multi-story car parks.

Multiple configurations

The ProSpeed Hiload 6x6 has knobby tires and generous ground clearance to go where ordinary fire trucks struggle for traction, like in forests or recreation parks. In addition, ProSpeed offers the Hiload in many configurations to tackle numerous applications like airfield & rescue, special operations vehicles for the military, surveillance and reconnaissance, ambulances, mobile command posts, and more.

ProSpeed could sell the vehicle directly, or license the production to high-volume manufacturers around the globe. The company said it sold a Hiload 6x6 to an undisclosed EV manufacturer, although it didn't say who.

Electric vehicle fires are no laughing matter. Thermal runaway caused by overcharging, poor quality, or short circuits could ignite dense EV batteries up to 3,632 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can resume burning long after the first spark. Thankfully, vehicles like the Hiload 6x6 have the equipment and capabilities to extinguish EV fires, while keeping firefighters safe and sound.