Toyota has been the biggest advocate of hydrogen fuel cells in cars for years, but now, the company is also showing interest in using the stuff in a more old fashioned suck, squeeze, bang, blow setting.
Earlier this year, an experimental Corolla racing car was revealed with the GR Yaris’ 1.6-litre inline-three turbo engine, but fuelled with hydrogen instead of unleaded petrol. And now, Toyota has done the inevitable and converted a GR Yaris to run on the gas.
It’s dubbed the GR Yaris H₂, and no, you can’t buy one. Toyota has only been working on hydrogen combustion engine tech since 2017, and as such, it “is not yet ready for commercialisation”. This is more of a showcase to sit alongside the Corolla, which is currently competing in the Super Taikyu series.
The fuel itself, the tanks and the refuelling process are no different to that of the Mirai, but rather than going into a fuel cell to power an electric motor, the final destination is a combustion engine. That powerplant features a new fuel supply and injection system, but otherwise, it’s identical to the one found in the production GR Yaris.
It should be even better to drive than its petrol-powered counterpart, as hydrogen burns a whole lot faster than petrol, making for better responsiveness. The only problem is, that also means consumption is significantly higher. When the Corolla took part in the Fuji Super TEC 24 Hours earlier this year, it had to pit 35 times to brim the tanks despite having only spent 12 hours racing due to mechanical issues and a complicated refuelling process.
Regardless, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is keen to press ahead with the racing-based research, because he’s keen for a low emissions future that doesn’t only involve electric cars.
Toyota isn’t alone in wanting this. The reveal of the Yaris H₂ comes a few weeks on from Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, Yamaha and Kawasaki announcing a collaboration with the aim of “using fuel toward achieving carbon neutrality”. This will involve numerous activities including the running of synthetically-fuelled GR86 and BRZ racing cars in Super Taikyu, alongside the hydrogen Corolla and a biodiesel-powered Mazda 3.
Yamaha and Kawasaki will be investigating the use of hydrogen combustion engines in bikes, and soon fellow Japanese bike giants Honda and Suzuki will be joining the party.