Toyota’s new all-electric bZ4X might be one of the most important Toyotas in recent history, but the Japanese giant is still taking a two-pronged approach to green fuels. Not only does it refuse to let go of the hydrogen reins, it’s entering a hydrogen-powered car into one of Japan’s most popular racing events next month.
Just a few days after the bZ4X reveal, Toyota announced it’s developing a hydrogen-fueled turbocharged engine for use in a Corolla Sport (similar to the U.S.-market Corolla Hatchback) race car. Notably, this is not a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, like the Hyundai Nexo or Toyota’s own Mirai. It’s a more traditional internal combustion engine complete with cylinders, pistons, and valves. The main difference is that the turbocharged inline-three will burn hydrogen instead of gasoline.
Toyota says that except for a negligible amount of lubricating oil burned during the combustion process, the three-cylinder will produce zero CO2 emissions. Otherwise, it will have a similar feel and sound as an ICE, but Toyota adds that the hydrogen engine might be more responsive, due to the faster combustion of hydrogen fuel.
Fuel to power the car will be generated at the Fukushima Hydrogen Energy Research Field in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. The facility produces hydrogen via a large solar panel array, so all the fuel will be made from renewable sources.
The hydrogen Corolla will race in Round 3 of Japan’s Super Taikyu racing series next month for a 24-hour enduro at Fuji Speedway. Super Taikyu has been a staple of the country’s motorsports diet since the early 1990s, growing alongside its booming tuner industry.
“By honing its under-development hydrogen engine in the harsh environment of motorsports, Toyota aims to contribute to the realization of a sustainable and prosperous mobility society,” the company stated.