Toyota is adamant that it is possible to achieve zero emissions without completely eliminating internal combustion engines. While some automakers, like Porsche, are making investments in the creation and manufacturing of synthetic fuels, the massive Japanese company is taking a different tack. Its goal is to convert the old ICE to run on hydrogen. The 1.6-liter turbocharged engine found in the GR Yaris and GR Corolla has actually already been put to the test in racing competitions.
Hot hatches are not the only vehicles with hydrogen-burning internal combustion engines (ICEs) available; the HiAce has also been adapted to run on hydrogen instead of gasoline or diesel. The utilitarian van, shown below, is part of an Australian trial program where a range of regional businesses will deploy the cars in practical settings.At the heart of the workhorse is a turbocharged V6 engine borrowed from the Land Cruiser (LC300). Output is routed to the rear axle via a ten-speed automatic transmission.
Toyota stated at the Australian introduction of the Hydrogen HiAce that the technology would also make sense in the Land Cruiser and other large cars intended to tow and haul enormous loads. President of the Hydrogen Factory Mitsumasa Yamagata stated in an interview with Drive that “such large vehicles, including Land Cruisers, might be fitted with [hydrogen-fueled engines]. This technical benefit can be used to vehicles, such as those that are employed for heavy-duty towing and loading.
Since 2017, Toyota has been developing combustion engines that run on hydrogen. Four years later, the technology was unveiled when a Corolla Sport participated in four Super Taikyu series rounds. Since the ICE in the HiAce only produces 161 horsepower (120 kW) and 354 Nm (261 lb-ft), it is significantly detuned. Switching from gasoline to hydrogen means losing a lot of power because the 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 in the standard Land Cruiser LC300, which isn’t available in the US, delivers 409 horsepower and 650 Nm (479 lb-ft).
Similar to the second-generation Mirai, the HiAce has three hydrogen tanks. It’s interesting to note that Toyota claims to be adjusting the combustion process in addition to packaging optimization to increase fuel storage even exploring the possibility to add hybrid technology.
In the HiAce, the internal combustion engine is up front while the hydrogen fuel tanks are mounted underneath the floor. These have enough juice for a limited range of less than 124 miles (200 kilometers), which isn’t ideal but you got to start somewhere, right?