In a recent announcement, Toyota unveiled its UK-built, hydrogen-powered version of the Hilux pick-up truck. Typically, European versions of the Hilux are produced in Durban, but the task of developing the hydrogen fuel cell-powered iteration fell to Toyota’s Burnaston factory in Derbyshire.
This marks the first time the factory, known for producing the Corolla, has developed its own vehicle. The reveal took place at the factory premises. Toyota has been a pioneer in the field of hydrogen-powered cars, with its Mirai model, launched in 2015, being one of the first of its kind.
A second-generation Mirai launched in 2020, and three of its hydrogen tanks now power the newly unveiled Hilux. The tanks are placed on a sub-frame bolted to the pick-up’s main ladder chassis. Toyota is aiming for a range of 600km (approximately 373 miles) for the Hilux, with the advantage of quick refuelling times comparable to those of petrol or diesel models.
This quick refuelling capability is seen as a major plus point over electric vehicles, which require lengthier charge times. Toyota believes that battery-electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles will ‘converse and overlap each other’. The company plans to target industries such as construction and mining with the Hilux, where vehicles need to be operational for longer periods. Demonstrations of the model will be conducted with customers throughout 2024, although no production model has been confirmed as yet.
The project took off in mid-2021, with Toyota and its consortium partners receiving financial support from the government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre a year later. The £11.3m project has been granted £5.6m in government funding. According to The Times, Toyota has produced 10 prototypes of the hydrogen Hilux.
While expressing his pride in the project team’s accomplishments, Richard Kenworthy, managing director of Toyota Manufacturing UK, highlighted that the UK government funding facilitated the development of the new vehicle in record time and upskilled their teams in hydrogen-related technologies. However, the long-term future of Toyota’s UK manufacturing operations remains uncertain, pending the government’s clarification on whether the ‘self-charging’ hybrid setup used in the Corolla will be allowed to be sold in new cars post 2030.
Original article: Car Dealer Magazine