Toyota, a pioneer in sustainable automotive solutions, has taken another significant step towards carbon-free mobility with the debut of its fully functioning hydrogen Hilux prototype. This groundbreaking vehicle showcases Toyota’s commitment to 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 hydrogen Hilux was revealed at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK’s (TMUK) Burnaston car plant in Derby. TMUK, in collaboration with consortium partners, led the project, supported by UK government funding administered through the Advanced Propulsion Centre. The successful development of this cutting-edge vehicle has garnered praise from Nusrat Ghani, the Minister for Industry and Economic Security, who commends the project team’s achievement as a vote of confidence in UK manufacturing’s potential to deliver carbon-free vehicles and meet future emissions targets.
Hydrogen Hilux: Vehicle Profile
The new powertrain of the hydrogen Hilux incorporates core elements from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric saloon, a technology that has proven its quality through nearly a decade of commercial production. When driven, the fuel cell emits zero tailpipe emissions, with only pure water being released.
The Hilux is equipped with three high-pressure fuel tanks, providing an expected driving range of over 365 miles. This significantly surpasses what can be achieved with a battery electric system. Additionally, the on-board battery, which stores electricity produced by the fuel cell, is cleverly positioned in the rear load deck, ensuring no loss of cabin space.
Ian Constance, Chief Executive of the Advanced Propulsion Centre, hails the Toyota Hilux project as an outstanding example of collaborative research and development. The successful launch within a year of project initiation demonstrates the capabilities and strengths of the UK’s automotive supply chain.
The journey towards creating the hydrogen Hilux began in early 2022 with a feasibility study conducted by TMUK, Toyota Motor Europe, and consortium partners Ricardo, ETL, D2H, and Thatcham Research. Subsequent funding was secured from the UK government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, with additional support from Toyota Motor Corporation.
A rigorous design and development program commenced in July 2022. However, it was not until June 2023 that construction of the prototype vehicle officially commenced at TMUK’s Burnaston facility. Utilizing efficient Toyota Production System principles, the team completed the first vehicle in just three weeks. By the end of 2023, they plan to build an additional nine vehicles.
Richard Kenworthy, Managing Director of TMUK, expresses his admiration for the project team’s incredible achievements within a short timeframe. The UK government funding not only facilitated the development of a new vehicle but also enabled the upskilling of teams to work on hydrogen-related technologies—a capability Toyota hopes to expand upon in the future.
These hydrogen Hilux prototypes have been designed to embody the same durability and reliability that have made the Hilux pick-up a global icon for the Toyota brand. To ensure these qualities are met, rigorous testing will be conducted worldwide, aligning with the high standards associated with a production model bearing the Hilux name.
The project has provided TMUK members with opportunities to develop and apply new skills related to fuel cell electrified vehicles and hydrogen system components. Consortium members have played crucial roles during the initial phase of the program.
To further explore the technology behind hydrogen fuel cells, interested readers can learn more about how they work on our website.
This article was originally published in December 2022 and has been updated in September 2023 to reflect the latest developments in this remarkable project.
Note: This article is based on information provided by Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK) and their official press release