In a New Zealand first through an innovative partnership with eight Auckland-based iconic New Zealand companies, a fleet of hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai will be shared in the first commercial application of hydrogen fuel cell technology in the country.
Toyota has partnered with eight key New Zealand organisations to join them in a car-sharing scheme which started on 1st May 2022. These companies are: The Warehouse, Air New Zealand, Saatchi & Saatchi, TVNZ, Beca, Westpac NZ, Spark and Z Energy. The vehicles will all be refuelled using green hydrogen.
Toyota New Zealand Chief Executive Neeraj Lala says Toyota is focused on looking at other opportunities to trial the applications of hydrogen technology outside of the automotive sector.
“Hydrogen fuel cell technology is another step in the journey to a zero-emissions transport eco-system. The commercial application of this technology is vast and Toyota has the means to explore new technologies,” he says.
“These kiwi companies have joined together to demonstrate the commercial possibilities of hydrogen technology in a real-world car-sharing trial. Toyota and our Hydrogen Project members are committed to a carbon-neutral future.”
“This trial also showcases the ability for large companies to join together to share their fleets, which in the future could lead to larger reduction in carbon emissions when you are talking about sharing say 100 cars,” he says.
“We are excited to continue to support the advancement of hydrogen technology in New Zealand as members of the NZ Hydrogen Council.”
“While the hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is tried and tested technology, we applaud the members’ willingness to sign up to this unique scheme and give hydrogen a go. Car-sharing with hydrogen cars is not common anywhere in the world and we are all keen to see how this will work in practice, and how we can utilise this technology further.”
Mr Lala says as hydrogen infrastructure is still in its infancy in New Zealand, the trial hydrogen car sharing scheme was established as a catalyst for a burgeoning hydrogen export market.
“There is pressure to reduce carbon emissions. Change is coming rapidly and we need to accelerate the introduction of new technology and innovations to support a low carbon future,” he says.
Notwithstanding the Hydrogen Project launch today, Toyota sees the long-term use of hydrogen in broader applications than the automotive industry.
“We are striving to share technologies and systems as it is our belief that environmental technologies should not be monopolised, while helping to contribute to the reduction of C02 emissions through becoming a technology systems supplier.”
Hydrogen can store more energy in less weight, making the Toyota fuel cell system suitable for vehicles with heavy payloads and long ranges. Fast refuelling also benefits commercial fleets and other vehicles in near-continuous use such as straddle carriers, forklifts, taxis, and car-sharing schemes.
Mr Lala says New Zealand is well positioned to grow its use of renewable energy, with the right investment, that could be sustainably used to produce green hydrogen as a next generation fuel. Hydrogen produced from renewable energy is known as ‘green hydrogen’ and could be a key element in the country’s energy economy in the future.
“Toyota is committed to providing a diversified range of carbon-neutral options to meet the needs of every country and region. The use of green hydrogen as a fuel for transport is also about having cleaner air to breathe in our cities by reducing other gases and polluting particles from combustion engines.
“New Zealand is an ideal place, with our renewable energy and resourceful culture, to test new ideas and innovate for a better world,” he says.
Hydrogen is one of many new powertrain options being developed by Toyota in its transition to a low carbon future. Recently Toyota revealed 16 new battery electric models and committed to producing 3.5 million electric vehicles cars per year by 2030.
Mr Lala says Toyota is keeping many options open and is not committed to one fuel source or technology.
“This is not a distraction from BEV application in our light vehicle fleet, it is to ensure our ongoing business resiliency beyond just mobility through alternative business opportunities. As the market leader, we have the ability to explore innovations that enable an affordable and accessible transition to a low carbon future.
“It is more important to adapt to changes in the future than trying to predict the future. With the pace of change accelerating due to technological innovation, predicting the future becomes increasingly difficult.”