Toyota trialling hydrogen combustion engine with GR Yaris H2 concept

Published: 02 December 2021

► Could the GR Yaris run on hydrogen fuel?
► Toyota is testing out a hydrogen combustion engine
► Will it go into production? Don’t hold your breath…

Toyota has revealed an experimental version of the GR Yaris that runs on hydrogen – a technology currently being put through its paces in a Corolla taking part in the Super Taikyu race series in Japan. Among the drivers, Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota.

The engine is the 1.6-litre turbo triple from the GR Yaris, modified to run on hydrogen. It’s a separate project from the hydrogen fuel cells used in the battery-powered Mirai, although it does use the same hydrogen fuel tanks and refuelling process as the Mirai.

It produces near-zero tailpipe emissions, but is said to be very responsive, with a similar sound and feel to a petrol engine.

yaris h2 side

Hydrogen-fuelled experiments on combustion engines began in 2017 – and as the Corolla racer’s patchy results have demonstrated, it’s still in its infancy.

Matt Harrison, president of Toyota Europe, said: ‘Who knows, perhaps a road car with this technology could be a possibility, especially as we now see the hydrogen infrastructure in Europe starting to expand.

‘The uplifting message of the GR Yaris H2 is this: even in a zero emissions future we could still enjoy motoring thrills similar to those we enjoy today.

‘And it needn’t be a distant future. By using our existing internal-combustion engine know-how and manufacturing investment, we could get there efficiently and quickly.’

Ferry Franz, Toyota Europe’s hydrogen project chief, told CAR: ‘You have still many cars running with combustion engines. If you can fuel them with hydrogen, it’s nearly zero CO2, you can utilise the same infrastructre. Over the next years I think we will be able to analyse maybe the combustion engine with hydrogen. It’s far cheaper to build [than hydrogen fuel cells]. If this is the case, it’s a perfect add-on.

‘It’s our will to explore all potential options for hydrogen, be it fuel stack or combustion engine. It’s more than only testing.

‘The first race was a 24-hour race in Japan, the hardest way you can find out about failures. It’s a very brave decision, and I think the very right decision.’

yaris h2 rear

He stressed that hydrogen fuel cells – and potentially hydrogen-fuelled combustion engines – were seen by Toyota as part of a broad mix on the road to carbon neutrality.

‘Our vision is to have a sustainable ecosystem with hydrogen but not neglecting the needs of battery-electric vehicles. We need both. Also PHEV and hybrid electric vehicles. We need every chance to reduce CO2 emissions.

‘There’s still huge potential with hybrid cars. It’s the wrong decision to ban combustion engines in Europe and in other markets. We still have a long, long way to go to net zero.’

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