In a world of dramatically varying customer needs and market environments, Toyota’s approach to carbon neutrality is to develop and offer multiple technologies to support customers on their individual journeys to zero emissions.
This multi-technology approach – which includes battery electric and fuel cell electric and plug-in hybrid electric and hybrid electric – offers the opportunity, for Toyota’s customers in more than 170 sales countries and regions worldwide, to reduce their carbon footprint today – irrespective of their environments and their daily needs.
Toyota also firmly believes it is too early to focus on one single zero-emission solution and is, therefore, concurrently developing hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen combustion technology alongside battery electric technology.
Hydrogen Combustion Development Through Motorsport
This year Toyota, through the Rookie Racing team, has participated in all Super Taikyu endurance races in Japan with a hydrogen combustion GR Corolla H2. During this time Toyota President Akio Toyoda, under his master-driver pseudonym ‘Morizo’, has taken the wheel in every race to evaluate and contribute to development.
Outside Japan, in August this year, a Toyota hydrogen-engine vehicle drove on European public roads for the first time when the GR Yaris H2 was put through its paces in a demonstration run at the WRC in Ypres, Belgium.
This regular and intense motorsports activity has helped to accelerate development activity and technical progress. For instance, over the course of one Super Taikyu season Toyota has been able to increase hydrogen combustion power by 24% and torque by 33%, achieving the breakthrough of dynamic performance on par with a conventional petrol engine. Furthermore, range has been extended by around 30% and refuelling time reduced from approximately five minutes to one and a half minutes. In addition to hydrogen usage, Toyota is working together with many stakeholders in the areas of green hydrogen production and transportation with the demanding environment of motorsports as a testbed, creating a wide range of friendships beyond the boundaries of the industry to help realise a carbon neutral society.
Hydrogen Combustion Corolla Cross H2 Concept
This technological progress gave Toyota engineers the confidence to create a prototype road car – the Corolla Cross H2 Concept.
By equipping the 1.6l 3-cylinder turbo engine from the GR Corolla with high-pressure hydrogen direct injection engine technology from motorsport activity, and adding the hydrogen tank packaging know-how from Mirai, Toyota was able to create a Corolla Cross H2 hydrogen prototype that can transport 5 passengers and their luggage. Real-world evaluation is currently being carried out alongside ongoing digital development, with the vehicle soon to begin winter testing in northern Japan.
Key merits of hydrogen combustion include the ability to leverage existing internal combustion engine technologies, quick refuelling times, and the clear reduction in the use and necessity for limited supply elements like lithium and nickel. By adapting existing technologies and further leveraging existing investments, hydrogen combustion could lead to widespread, accessible carbon-reduction solutions faster.
Today, Toyota is around 40% along the path to commercialisation of products such as the Corolla Cross H2 Concept. It is not yet possible to say if the technology will reach maturity for road cars, but there is without doubt a clear opportunity in motorsports.