Toyota, a leading innovator in the automotive industry, has recently showcased its fully functioning hydrogen Hilux prototype, marking another significant milestone in its pursuit of carbon-free mobility solutions. The company is exploring various technologies, including hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, and fuel cell electric, to cater to diverse user needs and global operating environments.
The remarkable hydrogen Hilux was unveiled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK’s Burnaston car plant in Derby. TMUK, in collaboration with consortium partners and with support from the UK government funding administered through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, spearheaded the project.
Nusrat Ghani, Minister for Industry and Economic Security, expressed her congratulations to the project team for their cutting-edge development, emphasizing the vote of confidence in UK manufacturing and its potential to deliver carbon-free vehicles to meet future emissions targets.
Hydrogen Hilux: Redefining Vehicle Profile
The newly developed powertrain of the hydrogen Hilux incorporates core elements from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric saloon. This technology has proven its reliability over nearly a decade of commercial production. When in operation, the fuel cell generates no tailpipe emissions except for pure water.
The vehicle features three high-pressure fuel tanks, providing an impressive driving range of over 365 miles. This range surpasses what can typically be achieved with a battery electric system. To avoid compromising cabin space, the battery, which stores electricity produced on-board by the fuel cell, is ingeniously positioned in the rear load deck.
Ian Constance, chief executive of the Advanced Propulsion Centre, praised the collaborative R&D efforts that led to the successful development and integration of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. He emphasized that the hydrogen Hilux’s launch within a year of project commencement is a testament to the capabilities and strengths of the UK’s automotive supply chain.
Project History: From Feasibility Study to Prototype Construction
The journey of the hydrogen Hilux project began in early 2022 with a feasibility study conducted by TMUK, Toyota Motor Europe, and consortium partners Ricardo, ETL, D2H, and Thatcham Research. Subsequently, funding was secured from the UK government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, with additional support from Toyota Motor Corporation.
In July 2022, an intensive design and development program was initiated. However, it wasn’t until June 2023 that construction of the prototype commenced at TMUK’s Burnaston facility. Utilizing efficient Toyota Production System principles, the project team completed the first vehicle in just three weeks. By the end of 2023, nine more hydrogen Hilux vehicles are scheduled to be built.
Richard Kenworthy, managing director of TMUK, commended the project team’s exceptional achievement within a remarkably short period. He emphasized that the UK government funding not only facilitated the development of a new vehicle in record time but also enabled up-skilling of teams to work on hydrogen-related technologies—an expertise that Toyota hopes to further build upon in the future.
Reliability and Durability: Key Qualities of the Hydrogen Hilux
The hydrogen Hilux prototypes were meticulously designed to embody the renowned durability and reliability associated with Toyota’s iconic pickup truck. To ensure these qualities are maintained, rigorous testing will be conducted worldwide to meet the high standards expected of a production model bearing the Hilux name.
This project has provided TMUK members with valuable opportunities to develop and apply new skills related to fuel cell electrified vehicles and hydrogen system components. Consortium members have also played vital roles during the initial phase of this groundbreaking program.
To learn more about how hydrogen fuel cells work and their role in sustainable mobility, refer to our previous article published in December 2022. We have updated this article in September 2023 to reflect the latest developments in this remarkable project.
Toyota’s commitment to carbon-free mobility continues to drive innovation and shape the future of transportation. With their pioneering efforts in hydrogen-powered vehicles like the hydrogen Hilux, Toyota is setting a new standard for sustainable mobility solutions that prioritize both environmental responsibility and user convenience.