Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Hilux pick-up truck to be manufactured in the UK
Image credit: Toyota
Toyota has revealed that an electrified version of its Hilux pick-up, which is equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell system, will be built in the UK.
The Japanese carmaker unveiled a prototype vehicle at its Burnaston car plant in Derby, where it has been developed in a joint project with consortium partners, supported by taxpayer funding.
The vehicle’s new powertrain uses core elements from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric saloon, which has been produced in limited quantities commercially over the last decade. When driven, the fuel cell produces no tailpipe emissions other than pure water.
Three high-pressure fuel tanks are used, giving the Hilux an expected driving range of more than 365 miles. This is significantly more range than might be achieved with a battery electric system, Toyota said, although access to refuelling stations is limited in most countries.
The battery, which stores electricity produced onboard by the fuel cell, is positioned in the rear load deck in order to prevent the loss of cabin space.
Toyota has long been a proponent of hydrogen vehicles, although the rest of the automotive market has largely pivoted towards electric as an alternative to ICE vehicles. Its focus on the technology has left it struggling to compete with rivals on electric vehicles (EVs) – its only model, the bZ4X, sold poorly.
As of November 2022, global sales of its Mirai series totalled just 21,475 units, whereas Tesla, in comparison, had sold around 4 million EVs by the same period.
Until earlier this year, Toyota had not introduced a new hydrogen vehicle since 2014, although it unveiled the 2023 Toyota Crown sedan in April. That same month, the firm appointed a new CEO who is expected to ramp up development on EVs, with 10 new models already planned for release in 2026.
Richard Kenworthy, managing director of Toyota Motor 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 upskill our teams to work on hydrogen-related technologies – something we hope to build on in the future.”
Industry minister Nusrat Ghani said: “We have an amazing manufacturing sector here in the UK, and this is a great example. It’s fantastic to see Toyota reach another milestone on its journey to zero emissions here in Britain, and I congratulate the project team for their success on this cutting-edge development. This is a great vote of confidence in UK manufacturing and its potential to deliver carbon-free vehicles to meet future targets.”
In December, MPs on the Commons Science and Technology Committee said that hydrogen would not play a major role in the UK’s efforts to reach net zero, although it can grow to become “a big niche” fuel in particular sectors.
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