Toyota looking to hydrogen to make the Hilux green

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Words: Matthew Hansen
14 Jan 2021

One of the biggest gripes facing the push for electrification in motoring is the lack of options and solutions when it comes to utility vehicles and commercials. Many of the buyers of these vehicles are EV cynics, often traversing remote areas not well plotted by car chargers.

It’s in this segment that hydrogen appears to have the most fans, with firms like Hyundai already producing trucks propelled by the unique zero-emissions fuel. Now, Toyota looks set to try and downscale the tech for its most popular vehicle in New Zealand — the Hilux.

Toyota has confirmed a partnership with Kenworth into the development of hydrogen tech for load-lugging vehicles like the Hilux. Toyota Australia chief executive and president Matthew Callachor says the alternative fuel is a good fit — acknowledging simultaneously that there’s work to be done.

“For heavy trucks and commercial vehicles, fuel cells are looking like the more easy to implement solution in terms of weight and capacity,” he said. “It could be at a Hilux level or it could be at other lighter commercial vehicles as well. They’re actively exploring the fuel cell on many different variants.

“It faces barriers in the sense that pipes aren’t laid to actually fuel the vehicles. But it has huge benefits in terms of being able to completely fuel vehicles in five minutes. There is a big difference between a hybrid that’s going to travel on a road to a hybrid that has to go through the most severe environmental circumstances and come out the other end being completely reliable.”

While there are no mainstream electric or hydrogen utes on the market today, they’re creeping into view overseas via things like the Ford-backed Rivian R1-T, Hummer EV, Tesla Cybertruck, and Ford F-150 EV.

Closer to home, Chinese firm LDV has confirmed that it has a fully electric ute coming this year (and it will be sold in New Zealand). Great Wall (now known as GWM) also has a fully electric ute in the works.

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