Toyota testing hydrogen fuel for Hiace LCV
As we all know, unlike most manufacturers who concentrated their efforts on developing EVs, Toyota is choosing a multi-pathway approach towards achieving carbon neutrality. Instead of investing straight into EVs, they are also working on hybrids and fuel cell vehicles.
Speaking of the latter, they have gone as far as testing hydrogen power for racing with the GR Corolla. But now, they are evaluating the use of hydrogen for commercial vehicles, beginning with the Hiace in Australia.
Toyota did not develop a special engine for the Hiace prototype but rather modified the 3.5-liter V6 turbo found on the LC300 and the Lexus LX to combust compressed hydrogen gas. The V6 sends power to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic.
The hydrogen powertrain produces near-zero CO2 emissions but generates a small amount of nitrogen oxide. To counteract this, a catalytic reduction system takes care of reducing the emissions to the point where it meets Euro 6 standards.
While making significantly less power (163 PS vs. 415 PS on pure gasoline), the idea of having hydrogen power for the Hiace can prove to be a viable alternative in the future especially in terms of packaging.
Because the commercial van platform offers the opportunity to place the engine in front and the hydrogen tanks under the floor, there's little impact on space and payload.
By late November 2023, the hydrogen-powered Hiace will be tested in real-life conditions in Australia. This is done to evaluate the technology and provide feedback for further development.
Toyota has yet to provide a timeline as to when will they introduce hydrogen-powered vehicles to the market. But considering the pace of development and the state of the prototypes, we would not be surprised if the brand rolls out hydrogen tech before the decade ends.