Toyota has introduced a hydrogen pilot initiative in Australia, unveiling a prototype HiAce equipped with a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine. The customer pilot program, initiated in late 2023, showcases the new powertrain technology designed to deliver ultra-low CO2 tailpipe emissions.
This development marks Toyota’s commitment to a global multi-pathway approach to decarbonisation, encompassing investments in carbon-neutral fuels, as well as various electric vehicle technologies such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, and fuel-cell electric vehicles.
Aussie companies are testing out the new hydrogen powered Toyota HiAce
The prototype Hydrogen HiAce is currently engaged in a customer drive program, allowing Australian companies to assess its performance in real-world conditions. These companies are keenly interested in the potential of commercial vehicles with extremely low CO2 emissions. By participating in this program, they provide valuable feedback to Toyota, supporting further development to eventually commercialise vehicles equipped with hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines.
Toyota Australia President and CEO Matthew Callachor said the local company was proud to have been selected by its parent company in Japan to operate this Australian-first pilot program.
Mr Callachor said, “Toyota is firmly committed to playing a leading role in the development of Australia’s hydrogen economy,” adding that “Australia is the perfect place to run such a program with our Federal and State Governments having already committed $6.3 billion in funding for hydrogen projects under the National Hydrogen Strategy”.
What’s the deal?
The prototype Hydrogen HiAce in the Australian pilot program features a V6 turbo petrol engine, similar to the one found in some overseas markets for the LandCruiser 300 Series. This engine, modified to run on compressed hydrogen gas through a unique direct-injection system, produces a maximum power output of 120 kW and a peak torque of 354 Nm.
Although the hydrogen powertrain results in nearly zero CO2 tailpipe emissions, the ignition process generates minor amounts of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), meeting Euro VI emission standards through a selective catalytic reduction system.
The success of this pilot program raises the possibility of hydrogen-fueled HiAce van conversions in the near future, signalling a potential shift towards more sustainable transportation solutions. Will it take off? Only time will tell.