Toyota’s Green Blueprint: The Hydrogen Hilux Prototype Defines Europe’s Eco-Future

Toyota Motor Europe NV/SA (TME) has unveiled the first prototype of a hydrogen fuel cell electric Hilux. This development is a reflection of Toyota’s broader European strategy to expedite the growth of hydrogen fuel cell solutions for achieving carbon neutrality. Over EUR 11 billion has been invested by Toyota in Europe since 1990, with 8 manufacturing plants spread across various countries. TME reported in 2022 the sale of 1,080,975 vehicles in Europe, capturing a 6.4% market share.

The vision of Toyota encompasses “Mobility for All”, aiming for safer transportation. The KINTO Mobility brand of the company offers services in 14 European countries, emphasizing zero-emission fuel cell products. Hydrogen is perceived by Toyota as a pivotal element for carbon neutrality, extending its application beyond just transportation. TME began the production of its second-generation compact fuel cell modules in Europe by January 2022.

A project aiming to develop a zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell-powered Toyota Hilux pick-up truck in the U.K. was funded by the Advanced Propulsion Center (APC). With £5.6 million funded through the APC, the project’s total value stands at £11.4 million. The members of the consortium for this initiative include Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Limited, Ricardo UK Limited, D2H Advanced Technologies Limited, & European Thermodynamics Limited.

“This exciting project allows Toyota the opportunity to develop a unique fuel cell commercial vehicle on the iconic Hilux platform, in the UK. This will significantly contribute to the skill base, not only within Toyota in the UK but also through the consortium partners and wider supply chain. The collaboration with highly–skilled technical engineering companies of all sizes allows the development of new and innovative solutions.”

– Richard Kenworthy, Managing Director, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) LTD 

The hydrogen Hilux prototype is a testament to Toyota’s diverse technological applications in its journey towards carbon-free mobility. The prototype was showcased at Toyota’s Burnaston car plant in Derby, where the project was spearheaded. Minister for Industry & Economic Security, Nusrat Ghani commended the project team, highlighting its significance for U.K. Manufacturing. The new powertrain incorporates core components from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric saloon. When operational, the fuel cell emits only pure water, making it environmentally friendly. Providing the Hilux with an anticipated driving range of over 365 miles, three high-pressure fuel tanks are incorporated.

“We have an amazing manufacturing sector here in the UK, and this is a great example. It’s fantastic to see Toyota reach another milestone on their journey to zero emissions here in Britain, and I congratulate the project team for their success on this cutting-edge development.  This is a great vote of confidence in UK manufacturing and its potential to deliver carbon-free vehicles to meet future targets.”

Nusrat Ghani, Minister for Industry and Economic Security, UK 

The chief executive officer of the Advanced Propulsion Center praised the collaborative R&D efforts behind the Toyota Hilux project. The inception of the project was in early 2022, with a feasibility study conducted by TMUK & Toyota Motor Europe. The prototype’s construction began at TMUK’s Burnaston facility by June 2023, and the first vehicle was completed in just three weeks. Plans are in place to construct nine more vehicles by the end of 2023. Managing Director of TMUK, Richard Kenworthy lauded the project team’s swift accomplishments & highlighted the role of U.K. Government funding.

“The Toyota Hilux project is a fantastic example of collaborative R&D which has designed, integrated, and delivered a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Seeing [it] launch within a year of the start of the project is a clear demonstration of the capabilities and strengths of the UK’s automotive supply chain.”

Ian Constance, chief executive of the Advanced Propulsion Centre

The hydrogen Hilux prototypes are designed to uphold the durability & reliability synonymous with the Toyota brand. Rigorous global testing will ensure these prototypes meet the high standards of a production model bearing the Hilux name. This project has equipped TMUK members with new skills related to fuel cell electrified vehicles & hydrogen system components.

The commencement of a prototype hydrogen fuel cell Hilux project was announced by Toyota Europe on 02/12/2022. The aim of the project is to explore a zero-emission solution tailored for the commercial vehicle market. Funding was received by Toyota Motor Manufacturing from the U.K. Government through the APC for this zero-emission vehicle development. The objective of the project is to integrate Toyota’s latest second-generation fuel cell technology into the Hilux.

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The funding of the APC supports R&D that transitions a product from a proof of concept to prototype vehicles. Led by TMUK, the consortium collaborates with UK-based engineering partners like Ricardo, ETL, D2H, & Thatcham Research. As seen in the latest Toyota Mirai, the goal is to integrate second-generation Toyota fuel cell components into the Hilux. Expert technical support to the UK-based teams is provided by Toyota Motor Europe (TME) R&D.

A multi-path approach to carbon neutrality has been championed by Toyota for over two decades. The initial prototype vehicles are slated for production at the TMUK site in Burnaston in 2023. The aim is to gear up for small series production, following successful performance evaluation. President & CEO of Toyota Europe, Matt Harrison emphasized the importance of the UK market for pick-up trucks. Gratitude to the UK Government was expressed by Harrison for the funding that enables the consortium to explore a fuel cell-powered powertrain for the Toyota Hilux.

Ricardo, a member of the consortium, specializes in engineering & environmental consultancy, focusing on transport & energy sectors. Another consortium member, European Thermodynamics is dedicated to delivering high-quality thermal solutions. Engineering services in simulation, modeling, aerodynamics, & thermodynamics for high-performance industries are offered by D2H. Established by the motor insurance industry in 1969, Thatcham Research will assist in crash safety & insurance ratings for the project.

From passenger cars to commercial vehicles, Toyota’s commitment to hydrogen technology is evident in its diverse applications. The vision of the company aligns with the global shift towards sustainable & eco-friendly transportation solutions. Toyota continues to pave the way for innovative & green mobility solutions, with the development of the hydrogen fuel cell Hilux prototype.

Note- All images sourced from Toyota

Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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