Toyota has unveiled a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric Hilux. (Earlier post.) Its debut is a further demonstration of the broad scope of Toyota’s multi-path strategy for achieving carbon-free mobility, applying different powertrain solutions—hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric and fuel cell electric—to suit different user needs and operating environments worldwide.
The pick-up was revealed at Toyota Manufacturing UK’s (TMUK) vehicle plant in Derby, England, where it has been developed in a joint project with consortium partners, supported by UK Government funding. Hilux is a global icon of the Toyota brand with a reputation for reliability and durability. The development project has explored how these qualities might be maintained while adopting a new fuel cell electric zero emission powertrain.
The new powertrain uses core elements from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric sedan. Hydrogen is stored in three high-pressure fuel tanks, giving the prototype Hilux an expected driving range of more than 600 km—significantly further than might be achieved with a battery electric system. The hybrid battery, which stores electricity produced on-board by the fuel cell, is positioned in the rear load deck, avoiding loss of cabin space.
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 10 that will be built by the end of this year. These will undergo rigorous testing to ensure safety, dynamic performance, functionality and durability meet the high standards required of a production model.
Ricardo supported the development and launch of the prototype. In partnership with the APC—through which the UK Government has provided funding for the project—Ricardo has been working with Toyota to develop the Hilux hydrogen variant.
Ricardo’s role in the project has been to ensure seamless integration of the hydrogen fuel cell, fuel storage system and controls. This includes design, analysis and validation across all prototype vehicles.
Toyota chose Ricardo due to its proven experience and capabilities in applying advanced propulsion technologies across a wide variation of vehicles, in the automotive, aerospace and marine sectors as well as for its expertise in hydrogen fuel cell integration.
The hydrogen fuel cell integration enables efficient operation of all vehicle systems to give excellent vehicle range, longevity and reliability which are the norm for the world-renowned Hilux. Following an initial concept study, Ricardo developed a design to apply existing hydrogen fuel cell and fuel storage systems to the prototype. Ricardo also worked to develop and procure parts from a UK supply base, as well as from a range of suppliers in Japan and Europe. In parallel with the mechanical design and build, Ricardo has developed a gateway controller to link the vehicle and propulsion control systems.
While continuing to work as part of a consortium of businesses, Ricardo will now concentrate on delivering the test and analysis stage of the project, including vehicle performance and fuel economy, safety, durability, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), braking and ride handling. This testing will provide valuable data to understand the behaviour of the fuel cell electric vehicle under a wide range or real-world operating conditions which will be used to lead future designs.