Japanese auto giant Toyota has released images of its latest hydrogen-powered creation. No, it’s not a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (HFCEV) like the sleek new Toyota Mirai. As you can see, Toyota has outfitted its brilliant GR Yaris hot hatch with a simple ol’ internal combustion engine, but this time it runs on hydrogen instead of fossil fuel.
Toyota’s expertise in hybrid-electric vehicles is worthy of praise, but the automaker is a bit late to the battery-electric party. Toyota has long argued against the notion of battery electric vehicles becoming the holy grail of zero-emissions driving, arguing that “until renewable energy becomes more widely available, BEVs won’t be a silver bullet for slashing carbon emissions.”
However, the carmaker is not against electrification per se (it recently unveiled the bZ4X electric crossover), and it wants to expand its options by adopting hydrogen as the future fuel of conventional internal combustion motors.
Last April, Toyota introduced a Corolla hatchback for endurance racing, particularly at Japan’s 2021 Super Taikyu 24 Hour Endurance Series. But unlike a typical Corolla, it came with a gas engine that sips hydrogen, providing the “car feeling” that we all love (complete with the requisite engine noises and vibrations) but with significantly fewer emissions.
Yes, unlike the Mirai and its hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, Toyota’s hydrogen ICE engine is not a 100-percent zero-emissions vehicle. According to the automaker, the car emits some harmful gasses as the engine burns hydrogen and oxygen from ambient air. Still, the emissions are significantly less than standard gasoline or diesel cars. In addition, the fuel is 100-percent hydrogen and has zero fossil fuel content.
It’s essentially the same deal in Toyota’s hydrogen-powered GR Yaris. It has a revised 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a modified injection system. And based on Toyota’s hydrogen Corolla endurance racer, we figure it’ll sound like a genuine hot hatch, too.
The prototype is still undergoing real-world and virtual testing as we speak, and don’t expect a hydrogen-sipping ICE engine in new Toyota vehicles arriving soon. Toyota claims its latest hydrogen technology won’t be available for commercial production until the next couple of years. Still, rumors are ripe of a next-gen Prius equipped with the same hydrogen ICE motor debuting in the next two or three years, so hold on to your hats.