Last week, Toyota announced it would start developing the first fuel cell powered prototype of its Hilux pickup.
The new vehicle will be built at the automotive manufacturer’s plant in Burnaston, the UK.
To fund the project, the consortium spearheaded by Toyota is set to receive a £5.7 million (~ $7 million) investment from industry players and another £5.6 million from the British government.
Leading the initiative is Toyota Motors UK, however, Toyota did point out that ‘technical support’ for the project would be provided by Toyota Motor Europe R&D.
Other participants involved in the development of the new fuel cell-powered Hilux include ETL, Ricardo, D2H and Thatcham Research.
Production is set to take place in 2023, when the first prototypes are also expected to be rolled out for performance tests.
And once those have been passed successfully, Toyota intends to prepare the new hydrogen fuel cell car for small series production.
According to the UK government, which is sponsoring roughly half of the project, the new hydrogen-powered Hilux would be best suited for isolated locations, where electric vehicle charging is not a possibility.
Fuel cell technology relies on mixing hydrogen that is stored in a tank with oxygen to generate electricity, which results in the emission of only water vapor and warm air as byproducts.
Hence, it is a clean, climate-friendly technology that offers an alternative to electric cars.
Although news of the development of a fuel cell-powered Hilux is exciting, it is not the first move of Toyota’s in the sector.
The Japanese automotive giant started looking into fuel-cell technology as early as 1992, and its first hydrogen fuel cell sedan, the Mirai, was launched in 2014.
Following its release, Toyota went on to help develop larger vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells, including several heavy-duty trucks and a bus known as the Sora.