Toyota Unveils Hydrogen-Combustion Corolla Cross H2 Concept

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It's just as practical as its ICE-powered counterpart, but a lot friendlier to the environment.

  • Powered by a GR Corolla-derived 1.6-liter three-cylinder hydrogen combustion engine
  • Race-developed powertrain physically overseen by Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda
  • Retains space for five passengers plus luggage

Toyota has unveiled the world's first hydrogen-combustion Corolla Cross, a concept car that's being tested to extol the virtues of the alternative energy source.

While it may resemble a regular Toyota, the engine is far from conventional. Lift the hood, and you'll find a three-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine - from the sporty GR Corolla - with high-pressure hydrogen direct injection technology. The automaker says it has lifted this straight from its motorsport activities; Toyota has been racing a hydrogen-powered Corolla for quite some time.

Coupled with hydrogen tank packaging expertise gleaned from the Mirai, the Japanese carmaker has managed to create the Corolla Cross H2 hydrogen prototype: a crossover that is capable of transporting up to five occupants and their luggage.

Toyota Toyota

The world's largest automaker by sales hasn't shared any technical data yet but says it is 40% "along the path to commercialization of [these] products." That's hugely encouraging, as hydrogen vehicles bring several benefits. As they leverage ICE technology, they're cheaper to develop than battery-powered electric vehicles.

What's more, quicker refueling times (compared to traditional EVs) add an element of practicality. Importantly, hydrogen-powered vehicles would be lighter, as they don't need a hefty battery pack EVs do. While this all sounds promising, Toyota is playing it safe and notes that it is not yet possible to confirm whether this technology will be used in future road cars.

It's very confident, however, about hydrogen's usefulness in the world of motorsports. Over one Super Taikyu season, the automaker has increased hydrogen combustion power and torque outputs by 24% and 33%, respectively, while the range has been extended by approximately 30%.

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We first learned of the hydrogen-powered Corolla Cross back in June when the automaker announced it was working on the prototype. At the time, we discovered that the vehicle would be fitted with two compressed gas hydrogen tanks, under the floor. It's unclear whether Toyota has retained this setup, but we do know that lessons in hydrogen packaging were learned from the Toyota Mirai FCEV.

Inside, it's your typical Toyota layout: uncluttered and easy-to-use. It is interesting to note the manual transmission lever - suggesting manuals are here to stay if hydrogen becomes mainstream - and the larger screen, which depicts the hydrogen drive system.

Over in the United Kingdom, Toyota UK has teamed up with a private company to develop a hydrogen-powered Hilux pickup truck that will, hopefully, deliver the reliability and performance the nameplate is known for.

Toyota Toyota

Toyota, once the darling of eco-conscious motorists, has recently been accused of being hesitant to embrace electric vehicles. But, according to the company, it believes placing all its eggs in the EV basket is unwise. Toyota believes that customer needs are different across the globe and remains committed to its "multi-technology approach," which includes hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Hopefully, the hydrogen Corolla Cross - or something similar - will become a reality. It will be far more affordable than a comparative electric vehicle, bringing eco-friendly motoring to the masses.

It's not just Toyota that's on the hydrogen bandwagon, though. Over in Germany, BMW has begun production of the iX5, a hydrogen-powered luxury SUV that provides buyers with the best of both worlds.

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