Toyota has unveiled a hydrogen-powered version of its Hilux that has been built in the UK.
European versions of the Hilux are usually made in Durban, but Toyota’s Burnaston factory has been tasked with developing a hydrogen fuel cell-powered iteration of the pick-up.
The Derbyshire plant is best known for producing the Corolla but it’s the first time the factory has developed its own vehicle, with the reveal taking place there yesterday.
Toyota’s Mirai was one of the first hydrogen-powered cars when it was made available in 2015.
A second-generation Mirai followed in 2020, and three of this car’s hydrogen tanks underpin the Hilux, on a sub-frame bolted to the main ladder chassis of the pick-up.
Toyota is targeting a range of some 600km (373 miles) with quick refuelling – it takes a similar length of time to fill a hydrogen car as it does a petrol or diesel model.
This is seen as the main advantage over the lengthier charge times needed for EVs. Toyota says it believes battery-electric cars and fuel-cell vehicles will ‘converse and overlap each other’.
It is targeting industries such as construction and mining for the Hilux, where the vehicles need to be on the go for longer, and will be demonstrating the model with customers throughout 2024. No production model has yet been confirmed.
The project began in the middle of 2021, with Toyota plus consortium partners receiving financial backing from the government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre a year later.
The £11.3m project has received £5.6m of government funding.
According to The Times, Toyota has made 10 prototypes of the hydrogen Hilux.
Richard Kenworthy, managing director of Toyota Manufacturing UK, said: ‘The project team have accomplished an incredible job in a very short space of time, from creating the prototype build area to completion of the first vehicle.
‘The UK government funding has enabled us not only to develop a new vehicle in record time but also to upskill our teams to work on hydrogen-related technologies – something we hope to build on in the future.
‘This is a great vote of confidence in UK manufacturing and its potential to deliver carbon-free vehicles to meet future targets.’
The long-term future of Toyota’s UK manufacturing operations is still uncertain, though, with the firm currently only producing the hybrid-powered Corolla at Burnaston.
The government is yet to clarify whether the ‘self-charging’ hybrid setup – such as that used in the Corolla – will be allowed to be sold in new cars after 2030 because of the petrol and diesel car ban.
Kenworthy told the PA news agency: ‘We think part of the solution is hybrid through to 2035.
‘It doesn’t need charging infrastructure and it demonstrates that it can achieve carbon reduction, which is what it’s all about.
‘We’re not saying our future plans, but we strongly believe we should be taking the multi-track approach.
‘We think that after 2030 we should still be selling hybrid, not just in the UK but across Europe.
‘It will certainly be used globally, because you’re not going to have the infrastructure in place by then.’
Images: Rod Kirkpatrick/RKP Photography