(Green Car Reports) — Toyota on Tuesday revealed a prototype hydrogen fuel-cell pickup truck, but it’s unclear if the project will progress to a production vehicle.
Based on the overseas-market Hilux, the prototype was developed by Toyota Motor Manufacturing U.K. and a handful of partner companies, with U.K. government funding. The Hilux was chosen because it has a reputation for durability and reliability that Toyota wanted to apply to fuel-cell powertrains, according to a company press release.
The pickup was fitted with a fuel-cell powertrain made with “core elements” from the Toyota Mirai fuel-cell sedan. Hydrogen tanks store enough fuel for an estimated 372 miles of range, but they’re supplemented (and likely buffered for responsiveness) by a battery pack mounted in the bed.
The project was launched in early 2022 with a feasibility study, but construction of the prototype didn’t start until June 5 of this year. The completed prototype will be evaluated by Ricardo, one of the partner companies involved in the project, after which a decision will be made regarding a potential production model. If it gets the green light, it would be introduced in the second half of this decade, according to Toyota.
For now, the Mirai stands as one of the best-driving sedans Toyota makes—although the car itself is a bit beside the point, given the infrastructure challenges of hydrogen. In addition to that, Toyota has confirmed a fuel-cell version of the Crown in Japan, and has started making fuel-cell modules for commercial trucks and other applications in Kentucky.
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Could a fuel-cell pickup be next for production? The Hilux is close in size to the U.S.-market Toyota Tacoma. The two models were once related, but that’s no longer the case. Toyota is emphasizing hybrid tech in the revamped 2024 Tacoma lineup with no EV on the menu just yet. Toyota has said that a fully electric pickup is on the way in “the near future.”