Toyota Makes History By Entering Liquid Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle in Race

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Toyota Corolla with liquid hydrogen fuel is seen at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Saturday.

A hydrogen-powered Toyota Corolla completed a 24-hour endurance race at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Sunday, marking the first time that a car running on liquid hydrogen has entered a race anywhere in the world.

Toyota Motor Corp. hopes to use the severe conditions of racing to identify issues with the car that cannot be found in the research stage. Its goal is to speed up development for commercial sales.

Vehicles with hydrogen-powered engines emit very little carbon dioxide. Toyota has entered races with Corollas equipped with engines fueled by hydrogen gas since May 2021, but switching from gaseous to liquid hydrogen fuel increases the energy density in the same volume of fuel tank, doubling the cruising range.

“The potential for engine-based decarbonization will expand,” Toyota President Koji Sato said at a press conference on Saturday. “There are still many challenges for mass production, but breakthroughs can be found in the field.”

The configuration of vehicles with hydrogen engines is basically the same as that of gasoline-powered vehicles. Unlike fuel cell vehicles equipped with motors that run on electricity generated from hydrogen, cars with hydrogen engines can utilize parts and technologies from gasoline-powered vehicles.

However, to store or fill up a car with liquid hydrogen, the hydrogen must be kept at temperatures lower than -253 C. This requires technologies for fuel pumps and other components.

Toyota initially intended to use a liquid hydrogen-powered car in a March race. But due to an engine room fire during a test run, it ultimately did not enter the race. Toyota made the debut with a liquid hydrogen-powered Corolla over the weekend, having made modifications after the fire.