Toyota engineers have created a prototype hydrogen engine 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 refueling times, and the clear reduction in the use and necessity for limited supply elements such as lithium and nickel. By adapting existing technologies and further leveraging existing investments, hydrogen combustion could lead to widespread, accessible carbon-reduction solutions faster, Toyota says.
Toyota says it is now around 40% along the path to commercialization 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.
This year Toyota, through the Rookie Racing team, has participated in all Super Taikyu endurance races in Japan with the hydrogen combustion GR Corolla H2. (Earlier post.) 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. (Earlier post.)
This regular and intense motorsports activity has helped to accelerate development activity and technical progress. 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 gasoline engine.
Furthermore, range has been extended by around 30% and refueling 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.