Toyota is one of the carmakers arguing that the future isn’t battery electric — not entirely. It has dabbled in hydrogen technology for over a decade, notably through a partnership with BMW, and it has built an experimental hydrogen-powered Hilux truck fitted with Mirai-sourced technology.
Partially funded by the British government, and built in the United Kingdom, the Hilux-based prototype is powered by a fuel cell, meaning the drivetrain uses hydrogen to produce electricity that’s stored in a battery pack and used to zap an electric motor into motion. (In contrast, some of Toyota’s earlier prototypes — including a Corolla Hatchback race car — use an internal-combustion engine modified to burn hydrogen.)
Hydrogen is stored in three high-pressure tanks installed between the frame’s outer rails. The fuel cell is located under the hood, where you’d find the regular-production Hilux’s four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, and the drive unit is integrated into the rear axle. The truck is expected to deliver over 365 miles of driving range, which Toyota notes is “significantly further than might be achieved using a battery-electric system.” Ford’s F-150 Lightning delivers up to 320 miles of range, though the diesel-powered Hilux can cruise for nearly 700 miles between fill-ups.
Toyota adds that it installed the battery pack in the cargo box to avoid compromising cabin space, but there’s no word yet on what effect this layout has on the Hilux’s cargo capacity. Similarly, key details such as weight, payload, and towing capacity haven’t been released.
Development work started in July 2022, and the Hilux prototype pictured in our gallery above is the first of 10 units planned to be built by the end of 2023. These trucks will then undergo a series of durability tests around the world to help the Japanese firm gather data about the drivetrain. What the future holds for the model hasn’t been announced, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first experimental Hilux we’ve seen without an internal combustion engine. In 2022, Toyota unveiled an electric Hilux concept with up to 220 miles of range at a trade show in Thailand.
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