While a number of manufacturers have announced that they’re investing and investigating hydrogen as a future alternative to pure electrification, the number of brands that have actually produced hydrogen vehicles for consumers is much smaller.
Toyota and Hyundai are the best examples of the moment, with their respective Mirai and Nexo platforms. They were previously joined by Honda and its Clarity hydrogen variant, until the Japanese marque axed the model overseas in June of last year.
In a recent interview with Automotive News, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe says perhaps it’s time for Toyota to also consider winding down their investment in hydrogen and apply more focus to electric vehicles.
“We have conducted research into every possibility that’s out there. As for hydrogen engines, we see some quite difficult technological challenges. So, about 10 years ago, we decided this would not become mainstream,” Mibe said.
“If we look at what will become mainstream, probably for smaller mobility it will be EVs, and fuel cells for larger mobility. That is the conclusion so far.”
Toyota spent much of 2021 drumming up interest not necessarily in the Mirai, but in the potential future possibility of converting your internal combustion engine vehicle to run on hydrogen — a measure that would reduce tailpipe emissions and further reduce the need to rely on conventional fossil fuels.
The brand created this interest by sharing plenty of tidbits about its development of a Toyota Corolla race car powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged triple converted to run on hydrogen. The brand has also been testing a hydrogen-fuelled GR Yaris.
But perhaps the tide is turning at Toyota. The brand capped off 2021 by unveiling a whopping 15 electric vehicle concepts in one big king hit — many of them looking nearly production ready. The announcement didn’t ring in the end of hydrogen development by any means, but hydrogen clearly took the back seat to full electrification.
Honda, meanwhile, continues to play around with hydrogen engine development — just not in cars. They’re still developing hydrogen solutions for aircraft, although it’s also developing electric powertrains for planes, too, ensuring it’s got a buck each way.