UK Government support for Toyota hydrogen Hilux development

Driven by an evolving customer demand and Toyota’s holistic approach to mobility across all sectors, Toyota has identified a new opportunity in the commercial vehicle market in terms of a zero-emissions product offering. In 2021, following the Government’s initiative to support the automotive industry and its drive towards net zero, Toyota was successful in its application for APC funding to support a project to develop a fuel cell powered Hilux. The consortium, led by Toyota Motor Manufacturing Ltd. (TMUK) will receive the funding enabling it to develop hydrogen technologies in this specific vehicle segment over the coming 3 years.

The funding will enable the consortium to work towards the development of a Toyota Hilux fuel cell powered vehicle. The consortium comprises of a number of UK engineering companies, namely Ricardo, ETL, D2H and Thatcham Research. In collaboration with these UK based engineering partners, the project’s aim is to adopt second generation Toyota fuel cell components for the transformation of a Hilux into a fuel cell electric vehicle. While TMUK is leading the project, a team from Toyota Motor Europe (TME) R&D will provide technical support to enable the UK-based teams to build the expertise and self-sufficiency for the development of next generation hydrogen drivetrain capabilities.

Toyota has been promoting a multi-path approach to reducing emissions for more than 20 years. This strategy encompasses all technologies from Hybrid Electric, Plug-In Hybrid Electric, Battery Electric through to Fuel Cell Electric. Hydrogen is seen as one of the key building blocks towards carbon neutrality, using fuel cell technology for mobility and in the wider economy beyond transport. As a hydrogen frontrunner, Toyota’s advanced fuel cell technology is already integrated into passenger cars, buses, trucks, trains, marine and stationary applications for a range of business customers and other OEMs. With this Hilux project the company is looking into another opportunity to contribute to the development of a hydrogen economy. The UK is a key market in Europe for Toyota in terms of pick-up trucks sales. By developing fuel cell Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV), Toyota aims to stimulate ecosystems where supply and demand can meet. LCVs are a key tool to establish a robust infrastructure thanks to their fleet volume which needs hydrogen availability, making a hydrogen refuelling network a viable solution.

“The opportunity that this funding enables is significant and goes towards developing the technical capabilities not only of our employees here at our site in Burnaston in the East Midlands but also of those within the wider consortium partners. This region is heavily committed to supporting zero emissions mobility and we see this project as a great opportunity to contribute to the critical path on the road to carbon zero mobility. This UK Government funding will enable teams within the consortium to acquire key skills that can then be used going forward to investigate other fuel cell applications.” stated Richard Kenworthy, Managing Director, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd.

Within the scope of the bid, small scale production of initial prototype vehicles will be manufactured at the TMUK site in Burnaston throughout 2023. Then based on the outcome, this could result in small series production at the plant. This project represents an exciting opportunity to investigate an additional application of Toyota’s fuel cell technology in a vehicle segment that is key to a number of industry groups and will help support the sector’s move towards decarbonisation.