Hydrogen cars: how Toyota wants to relaunch the hydrogen burner

Hydrogen for fuel cells in cars is now normal for Toyota. The Mirai already produces electricity on board with second generation technology. Today, the biggest Japanese car maker wants to realize an old H2 dream that BMW has long dreamed of: the hydrogen combustion engine.

Twenty years ago, the Bavarian car manufacturer sent a small fleet of BMW 7s that could burn hydrogen in their engines to the “CleanEnergy WorldTour”. In Japan, too, the cars caused a stir in the media, but never made a breakthrough in the market. Because automobiles that could burn both hydrogen and gasoline never paid off. But the earlier failure didn’t stop the Japanese from putting the idea back on the road, of all things, in the electric car boom.

Specifically, Stromer’s offensive is one reason Toyota is trying to relaunch the technology. Because although the group is finally taking electric cars seriously, it opposes cover-ups around the world for the right to exist for COâ‚‚-neutral burners and synthetic fuels – and against a narrowing of technological pathways towards them. pure electric cars.

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As a promotion, Toyota therefore presented this year a rally car powered by explosions of hydrogen. The company explained the top-down initiative to develop the technology by racing. After all, the hydrogen burner is a top priority.

CEO Akio Toyoda himself drove the vehicle under his racing synonym “Driver Morizo” copying it through the race track. The fact that this technology is criticized as inefficient does not seem to bother him. Her heart is still beating in a cylinder.

Instead, the group announces that combustion in hydrogen engines is faster than in gasoline engines. This translates into good response behavior. And more: “Hydrogen engines not only have an excellent environmental record, but can also transmit the pleasure of driving, among other things through noise and vibrations.

The leading Japanese automaker even won small Japanese manufacturers Subaru and Mazda as well as motorcycle maker Yamaha and heavy industry group Kawasaki Heavy as partners for its campaign. In November, the team set up an initiative with a specific objective: “to go beyond electrification and offer a wider range of uses for internal combustion engines”.

Whether participants support the idea out of conviction or simply to please their major Toyota shareholder and partner is an open question. After all, automakers are committed to using environmentally friendly combustion engines in the Japanese Taikyu rally series.

Mazda wants to burn biodiesel, Subaru and Toyota are betting on synthetic fuels made from biomass. Toyota wants to put hydrogen burners back in the race with Yamaha, while Yamaha will develop hydrogen burners for Yamaha motorcycles with KHI. In the future, the team could also be joined by the other two great Japanese motorcycle giants Honda and Suzuki.

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Together, they want to study whether motorcycles with internal combustion engines can also drive in a CO2 neutral manner. So they probably hope to be able to save their vast know-how in conventional engine technology, at least in niches, in the era of electrified drives.


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