This is excellent news.
Who would have ever thought that the humble Toyota Corolla could be the savior of the gearhead? Thanks to a hydrogen racing project that Toyota has entered the little hatch into, that could well become the truth. Why do we say this? Well, electric cars are continually being hailed as our way out of climate change, but for the average enthusiast, silent mobility is boring. But as the short clip below shows, a hydrogen engine can still produce the sounds that we've come to know and love from traditional gasoline-powered cars. Take a listen and see if you can tell the difference between hydrogen noise and gasoline noise.
Sadly, the clip is very short and we don't get to hear the car accelerate much at all. We assume that the clip wasn't allowed to be made any longer or show any more since Toyota is still fine-tuning the experimental racer. But things look good. The end of the video shows the test driver commenting how he could not tell the difference in tone with hydrogen power, and if you can't tell the difference in a racecar that has minimal insulation from engine noises, then it must be pretty close to identical. However, you will likely have noticed the odd exhaust pipe, and herein lies the challenge.
Traditionally, hydrogen-powered cars, much like electric vehicles, are almost completely silent. Toyota's own Mirai is a good example of this. The problem is that developing an engine note for a hydrogen car while almost everyone else is trying to prove that electric cars are the way of the future can be seen as needlessly expensive.
Still, Toyota's president Akio Toyoda gives us hope: "We want to attempt to demonstrate that [internal combustion] engines can be useful in achieving carbon neutrality, and we want to turn them into a platform that mechanics and private garages, which support motorsports, can use in the future."
He also implied that the vast wealth of knowledge around engine tuning would go to waste if we don't have ICE in the future. Here's hoping his vision forges ahead.