For decades, automotive enthusiasts and experts alike have looked to Toyota for innovation, and once again, this industry giant doesn’t disappoint. Stepping into the forefront of the sustainable energy movement, Toyota has showcased its dedication to a greener future with its latest marvel – the hydrogen fuel cell electric Hilux prototype. Positioned as a beacon in Toyota’s mission to achieve carbon-free mobility, this unveiling emphasizes the versatility of Toyota’s approach in harnessing varied powertrain solutions that cater to distinct user requirements across the globe.
Situated at Toyota Manufacturing UK’s vehicle plant in Derby, England, the revelation of this avant-garde pick-up was not just a moment of pride for Toyota but also a testament to collaborative efforts. Having been constructed in tandem with a consortium of partners and bolstered by UK Government funding, this prototype stands as a symbol of combined dedication to sustainable technology.
The Hilux, without doubt, remains one of Toyota’s crowning achievements. Synonymous with durability and reliability, it naturally raised the question: Can the iconic Hilux retain its esteemed reputation whilst integrating an entirely new fuel cell electric zero emission powertrain?
At the heart of this revolutionary powertrain, Toyota integrates core elements from its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric sedan. A marvel that has stood the test of time with almost a decade in commercial production, the Mirai technology ensures the only by-product during operation is pure, clean water.
Storing hydrogen in three robust high-pressure tanks, the Hilux prototype boasts a commendable expected driving range, surpassing 600 km. When juxtaposed with a typical battery electric system, the superiority of the Hilux’s range becomes evident. Ingeniously, the hybrid battery, responsible for conserving electricity produced by the fuel cell, finds its home in the rear load deck, ensuring that the cabin remains spacious.
This monumental project set its first foundation stone back in 2022. A feasibility analysis by TMUK and Toyota Motor Europe paved the path for funds from the UK Government. Consequently, the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a bastion for cleaner technological evolution, joined hands to kickstart the ambitious design and development journey. By June 5th this year, the prototype’s construction was in full swing, and within a span of three mere weeks, the first vehicle stood completed, anticipating rigorous testing phases.
This endeavor, besides elevating Toyota‘s stature, has been a learning curve for the TMUK team. From acquainting themselves with the nuances of fuel cell vehicles to mastering hydrogen system components, the experience was transformative. The consortium members too, with their unique expertise, have been the backbone of this project. For instance, Ricardo, a renowned engineering consultancy, played a pivotal role from design to evaluation, laying the groundwork for the Hilux’s possible production model, expected to make waves by mid-decade.
Zooming out, this collaboration is more than just about a vehicle. TMUK, with a rich history dating back to 1992, stands as a beacon of Toyota’s expansive vision in Europe. With investments exceeding £2.75 billion in UK manufacturing endeavors, they have continually displayed resilience and innovation.
Other consortium partners like Ricardo, with their specialized skill set in transport, energy, and scarce resources, ensured a seamless integration of fuel cell components into the Hilux chassis. Similarly, ETL’s prowess in thermal solutions, D2H Advanced Technologies’ adeptness in simulation, and Thatcham Research’s insights into the repair market and sustainable consultancy, collectively steered this project towards perfection.
© Photos: Toyota
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