Toyota Built a Hydrogen-Burning AE86 to Promise Enthusiasts a Future

Here's your proof that Toyota will convert almost anything to run on hydrogen.

If you didn’t know already, Toyota is skeptical about a completely electric future. The company and its chief executive, Akio Toyoda, believe that it should offer a number of powertrain options to consumers. This includes battery electric vehicles but doesn’t end there as Toyota believes enthusiasts will be particularly fond of hydrogen combustion. To highlight the appeal of an internal combustion engine running on the sustainable fuel, Toyota built a hydrogen variant of its classic AE86 sports coupe, which is currently on display at the Tokyo Auto Salon.

The AE86 was built alongside another later version of the car that was converted to electric. Both cars maintain their manual transmissions, although the hydrogen car is admittedly the more appealing of the two. The silent AE86 uses the electric motor from the hybrid Toyota Tundra pickup and the battery from the Prius Prime PHEV. The result is 48 horsepower and 13.6kWh of battery capacity, which isn’t very much at all.

The hydrogen car, in comparison, likely makes much more power. Toyota didn’t state an exact figure, but the 4A-GE four-cylinder only required light modifications to accept the new fuel. Toyota states specifically that only the “fuel injectors, fuel pipes, and spark plugs” were changed. The hydrogen itself is provided by two high-pressure tanks from the Mirai fuel cell vehicle mounted in the trunk.

This hydrogen Sprinter Trueno is not the only hydrogen combustion vehicle the automaker has at the Tokyo Auto Salon. As we previously covered, the Japanese automaker built a hydrogen-powered GR Corolla, which makes the same sort of power as the actual road car, although it is heavier. The technology is moving quickly, even with Toyota being the only major automaker developing it in earnest. Refueling speeds and power output have increased dramatically since the company first started converting internal combustion engines to accept the fuel.

Part of the reason behind building this hydrogen AE86 was to prove that older cars can be converted to run on the fuel with relative ease. Toyota isn’t offering a kit to do this, but I wouldn’t rule it out completely, especially if the aftermarket steps in. In a promotional video for the car, various Toyota employees stated that they feel it’s their mission to “protect” these cars against a future that doesn’t think much of them. I think that’s a noble goal.

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