The Japanese automaker Toyota is set to launch a new hydrogen fuel cell car (FCEV) in autumn, adding to its flagship FCEV, the Mirai, despite the company’s CEO’s plan to expand its range of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).
The FCEV version of the revamped Toyota Crown sedan will be available for purchase in Japan from autumn 2023. Toyota is also introducing a hybrid-electric version of the Crown, as well as hybrid and plug-in electric estate and sports versions.
This marks the first hydrogen car from Toyota in nearly a decade, following the introduction of the Mirai in 2014, which is one of only two FCEVs currently available in the market, alongside the Hyundai Nexo, reported Hydrogen Insight.
While Toyota has focused on hydrogen fuel cell technology in the past, it has lagged behind in the development of BEVs, with its only BEV model, the bZ4X, facing poor sales. In contrast, over 56,000 FCEVs have been sold globally to date, while 10.5 million BEVs and plug-in hybrid EVs were delivered worldwide in 2022 alone, according to Hydrogen Insight.
There were speculations that the new CEO, Koji Sato, who took over Toyota would shift the company’s focus away from hydrogen vehicles towards BEVs. While Sato has announced plans to launch ten new EV models by 2026 and additional models after that, he has also stated that Toyota will continue to support its hydrogen program, despite the growing consensus that BEVs may be more cost-effective, efficient, and have better infrastructure for passenger cars.
However, in a recent presentation by company executives, Toyota hinted at a potential refocus of its hydrogen future towards heavy-duty trucking rather than passenger vehicles, while remaining “firmly committed to [Toyota’s] multi-pathway approach.
Toyota’s chief technology officer, Hiroki Nakajima, stated that the company will pursue mass production of FCEVs centered on commercial vehicles, citing the lightweight nature of hydrogen as an energy source and its advantages in terms of weight and refuelling time for longer distances. Toyota has also begun basic research on hydrogen engines for heavy-duty commercial vehicles since last year.