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May 18, 2021

Toyota To Race Hydrogen-Powered Corolla At 24-Hour Endurance Race

Toyota is steadfast in its development of an internal combustion engine powered by hydrogen. And to prove the merits of the technology, they’ll be racing a specially-prepped Corolla Sport at a 24-hour endurance race starting on May 21. Piloted by no less than Toyota president Akio Toyoda, it will compete in Japan’s Super Taikyu Series.

When one thinks of hydrogen, the typical scenario involves a Fuel Cell Vehicle or FCV. FCVs generate electricity using the oxygen in the air and compressed hydrogen stored in a tank. The hydrogen fuel cell functions like a battery, producing electricity, which can run an electric motor. Instead of requiring recharging, however, the fuel cell can be refilled with hydrogen.

In this race-prepped Corolla Sport, however, hydrogen won’t be used as a fuel cell. Instead, it will be used to fuel the car similar to gasoline or diesel in a traditional internal combustion engine.

Toyota isn’t the first carmaker to experiment on using hydrogen as a conventional fuel. BMW tried running the 7 Series (known as the Hydrogen 7) in 2006. While it produced just water vapor as emissions, it was incredibly inefficient—averaging 2 km/L.

Of course, technology has advanced a lot in 15 years. As such, Toyota credits its supplier, Denso for developing a new kind of injector that ensures stability and efficiency. In turn, Toyota fitted this new injector system into its 1.6-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder—the same one used in the GR Yaris.

The hydrogen-powered Corolla Sport also benefits from the GR Yaris’s all-wheel drive system.

To store the volatile gas, Toyota removed the rear seats and crammed four tanks enabling it to carry 180 liters of hydrogen. Before the race, it was extensively crash tested (including tank puncture testing) and carbon plates surround the four tanks as a precautionary measure.

Toyota has a very realistic view and expects problems during the 24-hour endurance race. However, they’re confident of being able to overcome those difficulties. More importantly, the data gathered during the race will help bring hydrogen-powered cars to road, breathing life once more in the traditional internal combustion engine.

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