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Toyota Built a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Hilux Pickup Truck Using a Mirai Powertrain

Toyota will test the build to determine the feasibility of a production version later this decade.

The Toyota Hilux is a stalwart icon for the company, with tough credentials and brand equity across the globe. Now, the venerable workhorse has been given a hydrogen heart, thanks to a new project funded by the United Kingdom government.

The prototype truck was revealed at Toyota’s Burnaston factory in Derbyshire, England. It relies on proven drivetrain components cribbed from the Toyota Mirai fuel cell sedan. There’s no official word on power output, but it’s likely in the realm of the Mirai’s 182 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque.

The hydrogen tanks are mounted low in the chassis, in the space that would normally be reserved for the gearbox, driveshafts, and exhaust. Toyota/RKP Photography

Much like the Mirai, the Hilux also features three hydrogen tanks, offering an expected range in excess of 600 kilometers (372 miles). Toyota notes this is a significant level above what it believes to be achievable with a battery-electric drivetrain. Meanwhile, the Hilux also features a battery for storing energy provided by the fuel cells, which is placed in the load area to avoid compromising cabin space.

The hydrogen Hilux project began in early 2022 as a feasibility study between Toyota Manufacturing UK and Toyota Motor Europe. Funding for the project subsequently came via the Advanced Propulsion Center, a not-for-profit operation funded by the U.K. government. Design and development began in earnest in July last year, with Toyota relying on engineering help from consortium partners Ricardo, ETL, D2H Advanced Technologies, and Thatcham Research.

Actual construction of the first prototype vehicle took just three weeks after kicking off in June this year. It’s the first of ten such examples which will be assembled by the end of 2023. Ricardo will put these vehicles through a rigorous testing regime to determine whether the design is up to production standards. The hydrogen-powered pickup will be evaluated as a potential production model to enter the market in the second half of this decade.

Toyota still believes that hydrogen has a role to play in our transportation future, even as most other automakers are leaning more heavily on battery-electric solutions. If that vision comes to pass, a hydrogen-powered pickup could be a hit. Busy tradespeople will always appreciate a workhorse vehicle that can run long distances and is quick to refuel, after all. As always, though, the infrastructure problem remains.

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