Toyota has revealed its prototype hydrogen-powered Hilux pick-up truck, which was produced at its plant in central England and developed with a £11.2m ($14m) grant from a joint UK government and automobile industry programme.
The funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) Collaborative Research and Development programme was provided on the basis that a fuel-cell pick-up truck would be “ideal for use in isolated settings where electric vehicle charging is impractical”.
The hydrogen Hilux uses “core elements” from its Mirai fuel-cell car, and features three high-pressure compressed H2 storage tanks that give it an expected driving range of more than 600km, which Toyota describes as “significantly further than might be achieved with a battery electric system”.
This statement seems to ignore the fact that Toyota is also developing a solid-state battery that it claims will enable vehicle ranges of 1,200km.
Engineering consultancy Ricardo “will undertake complete evaluation of the vehicle over the coming months, prior to a decision on a potential production model being introduced in the second half of this decade”, says the Japanese car maker.
Development of the hydrogen Hilux began with a feasibility study in early 2022, with “an intense design and development programme” beginning in July last year enabled by the APC grant (although it was not announced by the UK government until December).
Construction of the prototype began on 5 June this year at the Toyota plant in Derby, and “the first vehicle was completed just three weeks later, the first of ten 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,” the company added.
Toyota has been bullish on hydrogen vehicles since the launch of the Mirai in December 2014, introducing a second-generation model in December 2020, despite persistent poor sales.
The company believes it will sell more than 200,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2030, even though it only sold a little over 3,900 last year.
In April, Toyota announced that it would launch a fuel-cell version of its Crown car model in Japan this autumn.