Akio Toyoda is an impossibly cool car executive. Don’t believe me? Well maybe his unique career racing Toyotas will change your mind, or that fact that he vowed to make Toyota more exciting. A decision that has brought numerous performance models back to Toyota showrooms. His latest act of just being a cool guy will take place at Suzuka where he will race a hydrogen-powered Toyota Corolla at an endurance race.
Toyota is working towards a carbon-neutral society where cars do not produce emissions. Part of this strategy is to embrace the world of hydrogen fuel which has to clear a few hurdles before it can be accepted by mainstream consumers. When it comes to pushing new car tech there’s no better place than the world of motorsports.
So what does it take to build a hydrogen-powered Toyota Corolla race car? Well, it was surprisingly simple. Besides the normal safety requirements to build a race car, the mechanical bits are surprisingly normal. The Toyota Corolla uses a slightly tweaked version of the GR Yaris’s 1.6-liter inline-3-cylinder engine. Toyota had to adjust simple things like the fuel delivery system and ignition system. Otherwise, the Toyota Corolla has four pressurized hydrogen fuel tanks in the rear lifted from the Toyota Mirai hydrogen-powered consumer sedan.
The surprising part is how normal this hydrogen-powered engine sounds. You’d be hard-pressed to find anything different about it from the rest of the grid that uses traditional fossil fuels. Seeing this race car in action makes hydrogen seem all the more useable in everyday life, especially if the resulting cars are just as fast and engaging.
The Toyota Corolla Hydrogen race car has taken part in a few races. After every race improvements are made to the power train and simple things like pitstop refueling speed. This current version is the best hydrogen-powered race car on the earth and Toyota’s President is ready to drive it at a race pace, which is beyond exciting for the future of performance cars.