2024 Toyota Hydrogen HiAce prototype evaluate: Fast drive

It’s not fairly often Toyota decides to decide on Australia to globally reveal a brand new powertrain know-how.

The Japanese carmaker has been engaged on hydrogen-fuelled inside combustion engine (ICE) know-how since 2017 by means of motorsport, however it’s now branching out and exploring the know-how’s viability within the demanding business sector.

The Toyota Hydrogen HiAce prototype is a modified 12-seater HiAce Commuter van that may quickly be examined by Australian corporations as a part of a pilot program set to kick off later this month.

Toyota claims hydrogen-fuelled ICE know-how is a low-investment and low-cost approach to introduce hydrogen because it’s constructing on current internal-combustion engine know-how. It’s additionally claimed to “dramatically cut back” CO2 tailpipe emissions and have an analogous refuelling time as conventional petrol- or diesel-fuelled autos.

The corporate says hydrogen-fuelled ICE know-how has a combustion effectivity that’s greater than a petroleum engine and far nearer to a diesel-powered engine. As such, it’s claimed to be finest suited to excessive loading and excessive towing use circumstances.

For now, the one catch is hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in Australia is extraordinarily restricted. In Victoria there’s at the moment only one refuelling station which is owned and operated by Toyota in Altona.

The Japanese carmaker did nonetheless, lately signal a memorandum of understanding with Hyundai, Ampol and Pacific Vitality to develop extra hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in Australia.

Will this sort of powertrain know-how discover its ft in Australia? Learn alongside to seek out out.

What’s the Toyota Hydrogen HiAce like on the within?

Strolling as much as the Toyota Hydrogen HiAce prototype, there’s no instant approach to distinguish between this and the common HiAce Commuter van other than the loud livery and blue accents.

For those who look a little bit bit nearer nonetheless, there’s a H2 sticker on the gasoline filler cap which signifies this prototype must be fuelled with hydrogen, and there’s additionally a delicate H2 badge on the tailgate.

Hopping into the Hydrogen HiAce prototype is similar to the common HiAce. It’s honest approach to climb and I’m grateful there’s a step to make this simpler.

When you’re sat within the driver’s seat there’s just one apparent distinction from common HiAce van to this hydrogen-fuelled prototype, which is the strange-looking monitor on high of the dashboard.

This dashboard-mounted monitor is totally important because it shows data concerning the strain and temperature of the hydrogen tanks, in addition to how a lot hydrogen is left.

Given this HiAce is an early prototype and on no account a series-production car, there are additionally a number of issues that haven’t been correctly ported over. One in every of these is the gasoline gauge all the time says it has no gasoline regardless of the tanks having hydrogen in them.

It’s apparent the inside of the Hydrogen HiAce prototype is only a check mattress for this burgeoning powertrain know-how and there’s nonetheless a good approach to go earlier than it’s commercialised.

Wanting elsewhere across the cabin you’d be hard-pressed to seek out something completely different from the common HiAce Commuter.

The Hydrogen HiAce prototype retains all 12 seats of the common Commuter physique fashion, in addition to the utterly flat flooring within the rear passenger compartment.

Identical to up the entrance, there’s solely small distinction between this hydrogen-fuelled prototype and the common HiAce Commuter van.

Proper within the again nook of the Hydrogen HiAce prototype is a cage which accommodates computing {hardware} that information a variety of telematics on the car and broadcasts it again to Japan in real-time.

Toyota selected the HiAce because the pilot car to check this new hydrogen-fuelled powertrain know-how as a result of it presents the chance to suit the interior combustion engine up entrance, and the three hydrogen tanks underneath the ground and between the chassis rails.

What’s underneath the bonnet?

Not like the common Toyota HiAce offered in Australia, which is now solely powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, this hydrogen prototype is powered by a 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 engine modified to run on compressed hydrogen fuel as a substitute of petrol.

This engine is at the moment used with petrol within the Lexus LX 600 in Australia, in addition to the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Collection in different markets. Toyota claims one of many few modifications made to the engine are the injectors, which permit it to run on compressed hydrogen fuel.

The hydrogen-fuelled V6 engine within the HiAce prototype produces 120kW of energy and 354Nm of torque. That is 185kW and 296Nm lower than its petrol-fuelled counterpart. Drive is shipped to the rear wheels solely by means of a 10-speed automated transmission.

The inner combustion engine is fed by three hydrogen gasoline tanks much like those used within the present Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell electrical car (FCEV). The Mirai has a hydrogen capability of 5.6kg.

Toyota claims the Hydrogen HiAce prototype has a variety of round 200km. For context, the Mirai has an NEDC claimed vary of 650km.

This theoretically means the Hydrogen HiAce prototype consumes 3 times the quantity of hydrogen the Mirai does when driving.

Few different technical particulars are recognized concerning the Hydrogen HiAce prototype at this stage, although it does have a 1500kg towing capability and “minimal impression” on payload and inside area.

Toyota claims it’s already engaged on rising the dimensions of the hydrogen storage tanks and enhancing combustion, in addition to exploring the potential of including hybrid know-how.

It’s price noting there’s already a petrol-electric hybrid model of the three.4-litre twin-turbo V6 engine within the Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV. This engine could be good if Toyota is already seeking to hybridise for its hydrogen-fuelled ICE know-how.

How does the Toyota Hydrogen HiAce drive?

The Toyota Hydrogen HiAce prototype has a unusual startup sequence because of the reality it’s a prototype car.

When beginning up the hydrogen-fuelled van you employ the common key however it is advisable cease one click on earlier than the automotive turns automotive over because the automotive’s techniques have to assess whether or not it’s okay and able to go.

As soon as the automotive is prepared, the dashboard-mounted monitor shows a cute message saying ‘You Can Drive!’. Turning over the engine on this prototype I used to be totally anticipating to really feel and listen to the clatter and grumble of the common HiAce’s 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.

What I acquired as a substitute was the silky easy startup of the twin-turbo V6 petrol engine that has been modified to make use of hydrogen. It has a crisp idle sound that’s similar to its petrol-fuelled counterpart.

When it comes to really driving of the Hydrogen HiAce prototype, I solely did a number of laps of a check monitor on the Toyota Australia Autodrome in Altona, Victoria.

The course itself is a brief easily paved circuit with various pace limits, and the prototype van was utterly unladen other than having three passengers onboard.

Setting off within the Hydrogen HiAce prototype, it’s abundantly clear this car continues to be a van. It feels large behind the wheel, although in actuality it’s not any bigger than the common tremendous long-wheelbase diesel-powered HiAce Commuter.

I instantly picked up on extremely mild steering when driving. This made turning and altering route within the hydrogen-fuelled HiAce very easy. The Hydrogen HiAce prototype really has an electrical power-assisted steering (EPAS) system as a substitute of the common HiAce’s hydraulic energy steering system.

The explanation for that is the prototype’s 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 can’t be mated with a hydraulic energy steering system. What the engineers behind the prototype did as a substitute was alter the EPAS system from a LandCruiser 300 and made it match within the HiAce physique utilizing customized elements.

Regardless of gaining an EPAS system, this hydrogen-fuelled HiAce prototype doesn’t undertake any energetic lane-keep help functionalities that steers you again right into a lane in case you drift over a line marking.

Hydraulic energy steering-equipped autos, just like the common HiAce, don’t have the potential to have lane-keep help and solely typically have lane departure warning which simply beeps whenever you go over a marked line on the street.

It’s price flagging the Hydrogen HiAce prototype is on no account a pace demon. Its hydrogen-fuelled 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 engine is extraordinarily docile on this utility with 120kW and 354Nm.

Cruising at low speeds is when the Hydrogen HiAce prototype feels most comfy. Even then the van doesn’t really feel prefer it has that rather more to present and as a substitute prefers to be pushed conservatively. Pace does dial up at a slower-than-expected tempo, however you’ll get to the place it is advisable go – ultimately.

Punching the Hydrogen HiAce prototype a little bit tougher doesn’t actually encourage confidence. If you do that you’re met an absolute wealth of turbo lag.

Toyota is effectively conscious of this turbo lag and that’s why it’s at the moment assessing whether or not hybrid know-how may assist enhance low-end torque – I’m certain recalibrating the twin-turbos would additionally help. As soon as you ultimately get out of the turbo lag gap, there isn’t a heap to cellphone residence about. The engine simply revs and feels prefer it’s begging you to cease.

The hydrogen-fuelled model of this 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 has a redline of 4400rpm, in comparison with the 5200rpm redline of its petrol equal.

Toyota Australia senior supervisor for car analysis and rules, Ray Munday, stated the hydrogen-fuelled engine can rev greater however there’s no purpose to. I assume it’s additionally protected to say it’s higher to err on the aspect of warning with high-pressure hydrogen fuel.

Peak torque for the hydrogen-fuelled engine can also be developed excessive up within the rev vary, much like a non-turbo petrol engine.

One thing that helps hold the van in its torque band as a lot as doable is the 10-speed automated transmission. There are many ratios to select from, although it could actually typically stumble whenever you punch the accelerator unexpectedly.

Throughout my drive on the check monitor there was a straight part the place I made a decision to attempt a 0-100km/h check. I didn’t have any official timing gear with me, however utilizing a stopwatch I clocked a 0-100km/h dash time of round 20 seconds.

By the point I really reached 100km/h I wanted to brake fairly closely because the straight was ending very shortly. Given the dearth of the facility, I do know I wouldn’t wish to get caught behind this automotive with a full load of individuals because it’s merging onto the freeway, for instance.

The hydrogen-fuelled van can also be stated to have a braked towing capability of 1500kg, which might doubtless additionally sluggish it down significantly.

Lastly I’d like to debate hydrogen consumption. Round 200km of vary on this prototype is likely to be okay for some companies that do brief point-to-point shuttles, however I’m certain they’ll even be making a good variety of journeys again to Altona to refuel.

I stay up for Toyota with the ability to drop in some bigger hydrogen tanks so the claimed vary determine rises to a stage that’s extra comparable with a equally sized all-electric business van, just like the Peugeot E-Knowledgeable (as much as 350km).

CarExpert’s Tackle the Toyota Hydrogen HiAce

To not be too harsh on the Toyota Hydrogen HiAce prototype, however in its present type it’s not very highly effective, doesn’t have very a lot vary, and can doubtless value an arm and a leg if it turns into commercialised.

It’s apparent Toyota’s hydrogen inside combustion engine know-how continues to be in its infancy and I do have to present the Japanese carmaker credit score for creating one thing outdoors of the field. It’s not on a regular basis you get to drive a HiAce with a modified twin-turbo V6 crammed in it.

Regardless of my gripes, I’m genuinely excited to see the place this sort of know-how goes over the following 5 to 10 years.

I’m certain there’s a marketplace for this sort of high-use, high-load and low-emissions business car that may be refuelled in a couple of minutes, however it won’t find yourself being Australia.

The native hydrogen refuelling infrastructure must scale up so as to make this sort of car viable, although the very fact this prototype car even exists is hopefully a step in the proper route.

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BUY: Toyota HiAce
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I was born on March 15, 1980, in Detroit, Michigan. I grew up in the heart of Motor City, surrounded by the culture of automobiles. I had a close-knit family, including my parents, two older siblings, and a younger brother. I attended Roosevelt High School in Detroit, where my love for cars began to flourish. From a young age, I showed an early interest in automobiles. I would spend hours tinkering with my bicycle and helping my father fix up our family car. It was clear that I had a natural affinity for all things mechanical. This passion for cars led me to pursue a career in the automotive industry.

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