Toyota has unveiled a prototype hydrogen fuel cell-powered version of its Hilux light commercial vehicle.
The new vehicle’s powertrain uses core elements from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric saloon – technology that been in commercial production for almost ten years. When driven, the fuel cell produces no exhaust emissions other than pure water.
The vehicle features high-pressure fuel tanks, giving it an expected driving range of more than 585 kilometres – significantly further than might be achieved with a battery electric system. It also features a battery that stores electricity produced on-board by the fuel cell, positioned in the rear load deck in order to avoid any loss of cabin space.
Toyota developed the vehicle at its Burnaston car plant in Derby in a joint project with a number of consortium partners, supported by UK government funding.
The project began in early 2022 with a feasibility study undertaken by Toyota Manufacturing UK (TMUK) and Toyota Motor Europe with consortium partners Ricardo, ETL, D2H Advanced Technologies and Thatcham Research. Funding was subsequently gained from the UK government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a non-profit organisation that supports the development of cleaner technologies and new mobility concepts. This enabled the start of an intense design and development programme from 1 July 2022, with additional support from the Toyota Motor Corporation.
Prototype construction began on 5 June this year, working to Toyota Production System principles in a dedicated area within the TMUK facility. The first vehicle was completed just three weeks later, the first of ten that will be built by the end of this year. These will undergo rigorous testing around the world to ensure safety, dynamic performance, functionality and durability meet the high standards required of a production model.
The project has enabled TMUK members to develop and apply new skills relating to fuel cell electrified vehicles and hydrogen system components. The consortium members have also all played key roles in the initial phase of the programme.
Ricardo supported preparations for the prototype build, carrying out design and development tasks and confirming the complete manufacturing process in parallel with teams at TMUK. It will undertake complete evaluation of the vehicle over the coming months.
‘It’s fantastic to see Toyota reach another milestone on their journey to zero emissions here in Britain, and I congratulate the project team for their success on this cutting-edge development,’ said Nusrat Ghani, UK minister for industry and economic security.
‘The project team has accomplished an incredible job in a very short space of time, from creating the prototype build area to completion of the first vehicle,’ said Richard Kenworthy, managing director of TMUK. ‘The UK government funding has enabled us not only to develop a new vehicle in record time, but also to upskill our teams to work on hydrogen-related technologies, something we hope to build on in the future.’
‘The Toyota Hilux project is a fantastic example of collaborative R&D that has designed, integrated and delivered a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. UK government funding through the Advanced Propulsion Centre anchors capability in R&D, which helps safeguard and creates new jobs for the future,’ said Ian Constance, APC chief executive.