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Toyota hydrogen fuel cell Hilux project reaches demonstration phase; 10 prototypes built

A project to realise a hydrogen fuel cell Toyota Hilux pick-up (earlier post) has moved into its next and final phase. Since the unveiling of the first prototype vehicle in September 2023, Toyota and its consortium partners, supported by UK Government funding, have reached an intensive evaluation and demonstration stage.


The latest landmark in this joint development project further demonstrates the broad scope of Toyota’s multi-path strategy towards carbon neutrality, applying different powertrain solutions—hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, fuel cell electric and e-fuels—to suit different user needs and local infrastructure.

A total of 10 fuel cell Hilux prototypes have now been built at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK) facility in Derby, England. Five vehicles are undergoing field testing to assess safety, performance, functionality, and durability, generating test drive data in real-world situations.

Five further units are engaged in customer and media demonstrations, including at the forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024.

Along with Toyota’s 30 years of research and development into hydrogen fuel cells, know-how from the Hilux project will contribute to the next generation of fuel cell technology, which will offer longer lifecycles, increased driving range for vehicles and significantly reduced costs.


Toyota expects Europe to be one of the largest hydrogen fuel cell markets by 2030, with steady growth in mobility and power generation applications. As a result, in December 2023 Toyota Motor Europe (TME) announced the Hydrogen Factory Europe, representing Toyota’s co-ordinated approach to the commerciali ation of this technology, from development and production to sales and aftersales.

The fuel cell Hilux prototype project is an important stepping stone to further develop hydrogen technology and stimulate a wider roll-out of hydrogen eco-systems and infrastructure across Europe, Toyota said.


Vehicle profile. Since its initial launch in 1968, the Hilux has proved its invincibility time and again, having conquered the North Pole, Icelandic volcanoes and the Antarctic continent, while also achieving three victories in the Dakar Rally. The fuel cell Hilux retains that uncompromising DNA while looking to a zero-carbon future.

Externally, the fuel cell Hilux retains the same dimensions and rugged appearance as the latest Hilux. In extra-cab format, it is 5325 mm long, 1855 mm wide and 1810 mm tall but beneath the surface, Toyota’s fuel cell technology marks it out as a trailblazer.

Power is delivered using core elements from the Toyota Mirai—technology that has proved its quality in almost a decade of commercial production since Toyota introduced the mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell sedan in 2015.

The fuel cell Hilux has an expected driving range of up to 600 km—further than might be achieved with a battery electric system. Meanwhile, due to hydrogen’s light weight, a higher payload and towing capability can be achieved compared to other zero-emission alternatives.

Hydrogen is stored in three high-pressure fuel tanks, each containing 2.6 kg for a total system capacity of 7.8 kg. The tanks are mounted within the ladder frame chassis.

The polymer electrolyte fuel cell stack contains 330 cells and is mounted above the front axle. The fuel cell Hilux is rear-wheel drive via an e-motor on the rear axle which delivers 134 kW (182 DIN hp) of maximum power and 300 N·m maximum torque.

A Lithium-ion hybrid battery, which stores the electricity produced on-board by the fuel cell, is positioned in the rear load deck, above the hydrogen tanks. This avoids any loss of cabin space.

Project overview. Starting with a feasibility study in early 2022 to demonstrate the advantages of hydrogen via a representative prototype vehicle, the hydrogen fuel cell Hilux prototype project has moved forwards at pace towards its concluding phase.

The feasibility study, undertaken by TMUK and TME, enabled subsequent funding from the UK Government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a non-profit organisation supporting the development of cleaner technologies and new mobility concepts.

A design and development program ran from July 2022 to January 2023, alongside consortium partners Ricardo, ETL, D2H Advanced Technologies, Thatcham Research and with additional support from Toyota Motor Corporation.

Parts manufacturing, including chassis frame welding, took place between February and May 2023, prior to prototype construction, which followed Toyota Production System principles in a dedicated area within the TMUK facility. 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.

Prototype construction took place between June and July 2023 and the first vehicle was completed in just three weeks. A further nine prototypes were assembled prior to a thorough evaluation phase from July to December last year, including test rig and track testing.

Those ten prototypes are now undergoing field testing alongside customer engagement activities, which will conclude the final phase of this research and demonstration project for the fuel cell Hilux.



' The fuel cell Hilux has an expected driving range of up to 600 km—further than might be achieved with a battery electric system. Meanwhile, due to hydrogen’s light weight, a higher payload and towing capability can be achieved compared to other zero-emission alternatives. '

These are simply superior to BEV in the application.
Loads of juice for towing, running power tools etc.


For hydrogen station roll out in the UK see:


' Skipton-based Element 2 has been building its business plan since 2019 and in the next few months will move to the operational phase with four sites underway, followed by 30 further locations either earmarked or under construction by the end of the year.

“Then we should be able to say to fleet operators that we have a national network with about 100 miles between stops, which in a vehicle with a range of between 300 and 400 miles isn't a problem logistically,” said Brendan Bilton, chief technology officer at Element 2.

“The important detail is that our refuelling equipment is compatible with car fuel cells, so we will be ready when fuel-cell cars come to the market. But recently we’ve adjusted our forecasts and brought forward demand from light commercials ahead of private cars."'

The give the cost at £15/kg, including 20% VAT, which is quite a lot cheaper than in California. For comparison diesel costs around £6.80 Imp gallon, so still quite a price differential.

Roll out of trucking hydrogen stations across Europe is planned at a similar or faster rate.



You quoted "The fuel cell Hilux has an expected driving range of up to 600 km—further than might be achieved with a battery electric system." The new Battery Electric GM (either GMC or Chevrolet) full size pickup, which is much more capable than a Toyota Hilux, has a range of 440 miles which is 704 km. However this is not a really fair comparison as the GM range is an EPA range while I assume the the Toyota rating is WLTP. So to get a fair comparison, you need to multiple the Toyota rating by about 0.8 or 0.82. Therefor, using 0.82, the real Toyota range is about 492 km or about 305 miles which is less than 75% of the range of the GM BEV. Of course, if Toyota used the NDEC rating, you would need to multiple their rating by 0.68 to 0.7.

Anyway, I do not know why anyone would want to use hydrogen for light duty vehicles, commercial or otherwise. Maybe for long haul heavy trucking but I doubt that it will be a good long term solution. Maybe for long haul aircraft but I expect that SAF will be the primary "clean" fuel for long haul aircraft. Just use the green hydrogen to replace the dirty hydrogen used for industrial purposes such as manufacturing ammonia and the planet will thank you.



I agree that fuel cells and hydrogen come into their own with higher weights and heavier duty.

I have not really dug into the weeds of specific battery vs fuel cell vehicle design comparisons for the instances you give, but when you get a heavy continuous or even intermittent draw, especially when the temperature may plummet, then the rated loads as against what you actually get for BEVs tends to plummet.

If I were going to tow something or run generators and power tools, then I would tend to fancy a hybrid or hydrogen vehicle, but obviously you could have dumb or inadequate design choices made there too.

For a BEV, unless you are lugging around an absolutely ginormous battery, which in itself impacts range as well as cost, you can be very quickly stuffed, especially if the temperature drops.


I'd just note that although many here may think me a hydrogen advocate, I do NOT favour hydrogen for normal passenger vehicles, for exactly the reasons sd gives.

You only really need it for heavier, larger vehicles, which is exactly the opposite to what we should be encouraging for low carbon, ecological transport, and for instance in France they are starting to introduce higher taxation for heavier, bigger vehicles - and about time too, in my view.

Having said that, just as better batteries would change the equation of the most favourable choices, so would better packaging or hydrogen on board, for instance some of the plans of Stellantis, so that FCRE's for plug in vehicles become a better option.

At the moment, although some like yoatman may love their BEVs, here in Bristol UK I know several who have them, as they have to, because of local government criteria for work vehicles, and they universally hate them for their relative inflexibility and would never consider them if they were paying their own money for a car.
That is at a lower level than more luxurious electric offerings though, and no doubt BEVs will continue to improve.


Insurgents will never buy this. Expect maybe for suicide bombings.

Roger Pham

I would much prefer a Plug-in FCV over a pure FCV or a pure BEV, because FC and H2 are a lot more expensive than grid electricity and battery. A Plug-in FCV would require a much smaller FC stack and would consume a lot less H2 during normal use. Should use H2 only when electricity is not available or not convenient.


sd beat me to the observation about the comparison to the 440 mile, 798 km range Chevrolet Silverado EV.

I’ll add that the Silverado has between 510 - 754 hp depending on trim level vs the Hilux 134 kW (182 DIN hp). (The difference between BHP and DIN are just a few hp in this example, so I’ll leave that aside).

The Silverado can tow 10,000 lbs.

Modern EVs have active heating and cooling circuits, so range loss in cloud weather is much less than in earlier generations. Also, simple strategies like timing your charge so that charging finishes at your planned time of departure, instead of 3am and then cold soaking for 4-5 hours, minimize range loss (not to mention departing with a pre-warmed cabin, increasing comfort and further extending range).

Roger Pham

Good point comparing the power between the Silverado EV 510 hp and Hilux FCV 180 hp (134 kW). If the Hilux is a Plug-in FCV with a 20-kWh battery pack capable of 10 C as in the BYD Seal 06 DM-i, and with a 75-kW fuel cell, it will have 275 kW of maximum power, which is DOUBLE the hp of the Hilux FCV version.

Hopefully, the Honda CRV-Plug-in FCV will give incentive for Toyota to develop its own PFCV version., which is what REALLY needed right now, and NOT the FCV non-plug-in version.

Roger Brown

@Roger Pham

A while back you were promoting PHEVs as means of easing the demand on copper since the electric motor of a PHEV could be smaller and less powerful than in a BEV. Unless I am missing something a plug-in FCV cannot accomplish the same thing.

Of course one could lower the demand on copper simply by accepting lower performance (i.e. lower acceleration and lower high end speeds). This choice is unimaginable within the better, faster, continually more profitable paradigm of economic development. Nevertheless this option is physically possible and even socially possible if we have the imagination to embrace it.

Roger Pham

@Roger Brown,
Thank you for remembering. If need be, the motor winding could also be made from aluminum. But I think that if the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate would be no longer, then PHEV would be more practical. A small engine in the PHEV burning bio-methane or bio-methanol can be designed to be almost zero emission, as West Port has demonstrated with the NG-powered truck engines, turbocharged and running very lean, thus cool combustion to bring NOx to almost ZERO, with also practically zero particulates and zero CO and zero Non-Methane hydrocarbon emission.
Using bio-methane, the fuel tank in the Hilux would be 1//2 the size of the H2 tank, at well below 1/3 the pressure, 200-bar biomethane vs 700-bar H2, thus would cost 1/6 due to much less carbon fiber needed, and much less critical other high-pressure components.
Don't be the perfection be the enemy of the near-perfect. Let's be reasonable and scrub the ZEV mandate.

However, the research in making 700-bar H2 tank would make biomethane fuel a child's play and much more acceptable. The US has so much forestry and farm wastes that making biomethane to fuel the entire fleet of PHEV and semi-trucks would be no problem. No need for H2 in the USA, although in Europe and Asia, they may not have access to so much forestry and farm wastes, so they may still have to use H2 for transportation.


8 months ago Toyota acknowledged that the Mirai was a failure and that they would pivot FCV focus to light trucks. Apparently this is the fruit of their labor.; The repackaged Mirai drivetrain. Talk about tone deaf. Rather than accepting responsibility for their design failure they blamed their failure on the infrastructure.

If they gave this thing a 100 mile AER, made it DCFC capable, then they could cut the FC stack by 50-80% and just like that even sparse H2 infrastructure is more than adequate. They would also reduce their COGS. In time H2 infrastructure Might increase organically and have a decent chance at finding a commercially viable niche.


Just feeling some appreciation for this website and respect for the folks who post here.

Bernard Harper

The fantasy of hydrogen continues. But for the grim story of dirty hydrogen you need to listen to or watch David Cebon's interview on Fully Charged. Better still visit his website at the Hydrogen Science Coalition to get the facts on why green hydrogen is so rare and why dirty hydrogen is a such a disaster.


Besides being lighter than Copper, Aluminum is also more abundant and cheaper than same. So why not coat Aluminum wire with graphene which would certainly increase conductivity and efficiency whilst reducing weight and perhaps cost. Another possibility could be an alloy comprised of aluminum and Graphene.


My comment above applies to the motor wiring of course.

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