Toyota’s Hydrogen-Powered Hilux: Pioneering Green Mobility

Toyota, renowned for its steadfast commitment to sustainable transportation, has marked another milestone on its journey to a zero-carbon future. The company unveiled a prototype of the hydrogen fuel cell electric Hilux, showcasing the versatility of its multi-path strategy for achieving emissions-free mobility. This strategy encompasses various powertrain solutions, from hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric to battery electric and, in this case, fuel cell electric, catering to diverse user needs and global operating environments.

A Groundbreaking Innovation

The hydrogen-powered Hilux was revealed at Toyota Manufacturing UK’s vehicle plant in Derby, England, a testament to the collaborative efforts of Toyota and consortium partners, supported by UK Government funding. The Hilux, an iconic nameplate celebrated worldwide for its reliability and durability, serves as the canvas for a transformation into a fuel cell electric vehicle without compromising its core qualities.

The Hydrogen-Powered Powertrain

This revolutionary prototype draws its technological core from Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell electric sedan, the Mirai, which has demonstrated its prowess over nearly a decade of commercial production. When in operation, the fuel cell emits only water, ensuring a clean driving experience. Hydrogen is stored in three high-pressure fuel tanks, granting the prototype Hilux an impressive driving range of over 600 kilometers – a notable advantage compared to battery electric systems. The hybrid battery, which stores electricity generated onboard by the fuel cell, is ingeniously located in the rear load deck, preserving cabin space.

A Journey From Inception to Reality

This pioneering project commenced in early 2022 with a feasibility study undertaken by Toyota Manufacturing UK (TMUK) and Toyota Motor Europe. Funding was secured from the UK Government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a non-profit organization dedicated to cleaner technologies and innovative mobility concepts. Following this, an intensive design and development program was initiated in July 2022, with consortium partners such as Ricardo, ETL, D2H Advanced Technologies, Thatcham Research, and support from Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC).

Prototyping and Testing

Construction of the prototypes began on June 5 of this year, employing the principles of the Toyota Production System within a dedicated area at TMUK. The first vehicle was completed just three weeks later, with a total of 10 prototypes slated for completion by year-end. These vehicles will undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet the high standards required of a production model. The commercial release of the hydrogen-powered Hilux is tentatively scheduled for the second half of this decade, likely between 2025 and 2030.

The Role of Consortium Members

This project has not only pushed the boundaries of vehicle technology but also cultivated skills related to fuel cell electrified vehicles and hydrogen system components among TMUK members. Consortium members, such as Ricardo, ETL, D2H Advanced Technologies, and Thatcham Research, have played pivotal roles throughout the program. Ricardo, for instance, has been instrumental in supporting the prototype build, encompassing design and development tasks and validating the entire manufacturing process alongside TMUK teams.

Toyota’s Commitment to Sustainable Mobility

Toyota’s pursuit of sustainable mobility extends beyond vehicles themselves. The company envisions hydrogen as a fundamental component of carbon neutrality, both within transportation and across various sectors of the economy. Toyota is a hydrogen frontrunner, with advanced fuel cell technology deployed in passenger cars, buses, trucks, trains, marine applications, and stationary uses. To bolster infrastructure, Toyota aims to establish 700bar as the standard for fuel cell electric vehicles and products.

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