After a string of good results with accelerated progress on the hydrogen-fueled prototype racing car, Toyota is taking the next leap in what looks to be the biggest deviation yet in the automotive landscape.
Toyota, together with Mazda, Subaru, Kawasaki and Yamaha are jointly announcing their corporation to work together on the development of hydrogen technology as well as other greener fueling options to be used with internal combustion engines. Rather than just zero local emissions as promoted by new individual EVs, Toyota and the group believes carbon neutrality can still be achieved with new fuels running on combustion engines.
Toyota, Mazda and Subaru will continue to use motorsports as a research and development platform to evaluate and test laboratory-created carbon-neutral fuels. Both the new Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ will be powered by carbon-neutral synthetic fuel derived from biomass, while Mazda’s 1.5-litre Skyactiv-D engine in the smaller Mazda 2 hatchback will race with 100% biomass-derived biodiesel.
The current Toyota Corolla Sport hydrogen racing car will continue to participate in national endurance races to further accelerate the development and validation of technologies associated with hydrogen fuel being used in an internal combustion engine.
Kawasaki and Yamaha meanwhile will focus on the development of hydrogen engines for motorcycles and other vehicles, particularly in the logistics industry. The group will also study and improve the efficiency of the movement of hydrogen fuel, as the tanks are heavy and have pressure limits.
Honda is absent from this so-called ‘Team Japan’, as the company has announced its targets to achieve carbon neutrality for all products and activities by 2050, with every single motorised device made by the company to be powered by electricity from 2040.
At last week’s COP26 climate conference by the UN, Toyota together with Volkswagen, Nissan and Hyundai did not sign their pledge to transition to sales of 100% zero-emission new cars and vans by 2035 in leading markets and globally by 2040.
Toyota has earlier strongly expressed that switching just to fully electric propulsion is too early at this stage of acceptance and options for consumers, and instead to continue with a wide range of existing hybrid engines and newer fuel cell technologies to achieve carbon neutrality.