The Toyota Hilux with fuel cell drive has reached the testing and demonstration phase. The first ten units of the pick-up were previously produced at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK plant. The model was presented to the public for the first time in September 2023.

With the Hilux with fuel cell drive, Toyota is taking a further step towards climate neutrality. With this project, the company wants to underpin its so-called multi-path approach, which includes various drive concepts for different needs and markets - from hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles to purely electric cars, fuel cell models and combustion engines with e-fuels. Only recently, Toyota announced that it was working together with Mazda and Subaru in an alliance on combustion engines.

Gallery: Toyota Hilux prototype with fuel cell drive

The first ten prototypes of the Hilux with fuel cell drive have now been produced at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK's Burnaston plant in the UK. Five vehicles are currently undergoing rigorous field tests to assess safety, performance, functionality and durability. Data is being collected from test drives under real-life conditions.

Five further vehicles are being used for demonstration purposes by customers and the media, including at the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris. Toyota is an active sponsor here.

The knowledge gained from the Hilux project, together with Toyota's more than 30 years of research and development work in the field of hydrogen technology, will contribute to the next generation of fuel cell technology. These will be characterised by longer life cycles, greater range and significantly lower costs.

Toyota Hilux prototype with fuel cell drive

Toyota estimates that Europe will be one of the largest markets for fuel cells by 2030, with continued growth in the mobility and power generation sectors. This is why Toyota Motor Europe (TME) announced the "Hydrogen Factory Europe" in December 2023 to promote the spread of hydrogen ecosystems and infrastructures here. The Hilux project with fuel cell drive also plays an important role here.

From the outside, the prototype is indistinguishable from the standard Hilux; the dimensions remain unchanged at 5,325 x 1,855 x 1,810 millimetres (L x W x H). Under the bonnet is the fuel cell drive already tried and tested in the Toyota Mirai. This has proven itself in commercial use for almost a decade - since Toyota launched the first generation of the fuel cell saloon on the market in 2015.

In the Hilux, the fuel cell drive has a range of up to 673 miles - more than could be achieved with a battery-electric drive. Thanks to the low weight of hydrogen, a higher payload and more towing capacity is achieved compared to other emission-free alternatives.

Toyota Hilux prototype with fuel cell drive

The hydrogen is stored in three high-pressure tanks, each with a capacity of 2.6 kilograms. These are installed in the pick-up's ladder-frame chassis. The polymer electrolyte fuel cell contains 330 cells and is located directly above the front axle. The Hilux with fuel cell drive is powered by an electric motor via the rear axle. The unit delivers an output of 182 PS and a maximum torque of 300 Nm. The only emissions produced while driving are water vapour.

Part of the electricity generated by the fuel cell is temporarily stored in a lithium-ion battery, which is housed under the loading area in the rear of the pick-up directly above the hydrogen tanks, so that no space is lost in the driver's cab.

The fuel cell modules are assembled in Europe at TME's research and development centre in Belgium. The centre is home to a line that combines advanced technologies with high-quality assembly. In the future, an increasing number of fuel cell systems will be produced here at the Hydrogen Factory Europe, which will be closely linked to Toyota's other hydrogen activities. This will ensure a global reach and global service.

A key element in Toyota's plan to increase the use of hydrogen is the new generation of fuel cells currently under development and scheduled for market launch in 2026-2027. These systems will offer a higher power density and an expected 20 per cent greater range. Technical advancements and higher production volumes will also reduce costs by more than a third.

Other research projects are focussing on the potential of scalable fuel cell stacks with different outputs and the design of fuel tanks with complex shapes that are compatible with different vehicle sizes.