Japanese automaker Toyota believes it will sell more than 200,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2030, despite selling a little over 3,900 vehicles last year.
“This may be a strange way of putting it, but 200,000 is not a big number,” chief technology officer Hiroki Nakajima told reporters in Tokyo yesterday. “We believe this number and more can be achieved.”
The company will shift focus from selling the Toyota Mirai in California, where only 2,904 were sold units in 2022 — a 20% drop on the year before — to pushing both hydrogen-powered trucks and cars in Europe and China, executives said.
Toyota does not yet have any hydrogen-powered truck models, although its fuel cells have been used in trucks made by other manufacturers and it did produce a fuel-cell truck prototype through its Hino Motors subsidiary in 2021.
So its only H2 vehicle is still the Mirai, but it is due to release a new fuel-cell version of a Toyota Crown this autumn — in Japan only.
According to Korean consultancy SNE Research, Toyota sold 1,674 Mirai vehicles worldwide in the first five months of this year — a 13.3% fall on the same period in 2022.
Nakajima said that demand for hydrogen vehicles is higher in Europe and China, but that does not seem to be the case right now.
SNE reports that only 315 fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) were sold in Europe between January and May this year, compared to 348 over the same five months in 2022 —a 9.5% year-on-year fall.
However, the EU is on track to mandate that hydrogen filling stations are installed in cities and every 200km along core routes by 2031, with a huge increase in H2 trucks expected in many quarters.
China is the only country where hydrogen vehicle sales are increasing, according to SNE, saying that volumes grew from 703 in the first five months of 2022, to 1,857 in the same period this year — a 164.2% increase, compared to a global sales fall of 12.4%.
Nakajima also said that Toyota would look to strengthen ties with other automakers. In May, the company agreed to co-operate on hydrogen technology with Germany’s Daimler Truck, while merging Daimler’s Japanese unit Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Toyota’s Hino Motors subsidiary.
Toyota has developed a hydrogen combustion engine, arguing that this could work out cheaper than fuel cells due to the latter’s need for ultra-pure hydrogen, whereas engines could burn less expensive impure H2. However, hydrogen engines are less efficient and will produce NOx emissions.