It could have a sizeable engine with two turbochargers for added punch, however accelerating from a standstill in Toyota’s newest clean-and-green prototype calls for endurance.
The three.5-litre V6 makes much less energy than some metropolis hatchbacks. And with 2.6 tonnes of 12-seat van to lug round, getting in control is a leisurely course of.
Blame it on the gas. The one-off HiAce Hydrogen – or “H2ICE” – improvement automobile has been tuned to run on the clear gas as a part of Toyota’s strikes to decrease the carbon emissions of its autos.
The engine itself has pedigree. It’s additionally used within the Lexus LX600 (and a few LandCruisers abroad) the place it makes 305kW and 650Nm.
However within the hydrogen HiAce prototype these outputs are a extra mundane 120kW and 354Nm.
From the skin the one issues giving the prototype’s hydrogen secrets and techniques away are large stickers. Beneath the bonnet are some further cables and a blue-tinged plastic cowl over the engine highlighting the H2 inside.
Inside, too, there are nonetheless umpteen locations to retailer a pocket book or telephone and that Toyota gray plastic that appears prefer it’ll fend off many years of Australian sunshine with Teflon-like effectivity.
However the gas gauge on the sprint sits limp on its E indicator as a result of it has no petrol.
A brief digital show caught to the highest of the sprint offers engineers with details about the hydrogen system and permits real-time knowledge switch again to Japan as a part of the analysis program that goals to at some point provide hydrogen-fuelled HiAces in dealerships.
There’s 5.6kg of hydrogen housed in three cylindrical carbon fibre tanks stashed underneath the ground.
The tanks are borrowed from the Toyota Mirai, which creates electrical energy from its hydrogen gas cell system to energy an electrical motor. It’s way more environment friendly and cleaner than burning hydrogen in an inner combustion engine.
However Toyota says the HiAce Hydrogen prototype – “the first commercial demonstration of a hydrogen internal combustion engine” – is a comparatively easy and inexpensive approach to make use of present expertise to get to near-zero CO2 emissions.
Toyota Australia gross sales and advertising and marketing chief Sean Hanley says a manufacturing model of the HiAce could be obtainable at “a very competitive and compelling price” in contrast with a petrol-fed engine.
“We have full intent to commercialise this at some stage and at that point in time we believe this type of technology will have good price parity and be a very compelling and competitive image for the consumer.”
Press the throttle, although, and it’s clear what is generally a hearty V6 engine isn’t making something like what it may.
The engine spins up as if in sluggish movement, the tachometer winding in direction of its higher limits and the engine making the identical noises as if it was burning petrol.
The ten-speed auto ensures these revs stay comparatively excessive to maintain issues effervescent alongside.
My drive was transient and restricted to a flat take a look at monitor at Toyota’s huge Altona amenities in Melbourne however reaching the 100km/h velocity restrict proved a problem for the large bus.
The engineer in control of creating the engine says altering issues such because the valves would enhance the engine and convey it nearer to the outputs you’d anticipate of an engine of this capability.
However that seems to go towards the concept of retaining issues easy.
The massive gross sales pitch is its normality and that the majority the parts are shared with present Toyotas.
The one large factor lacking from the hydrogen equation is the hydrogen itself. There are solely six locations to refuel a hydrogen automobile in Australia, one among which is behind closed gates at Toyota’s Altona facility.
Whereas electrical energy is offered across the nation, the success of a mission like this might depend on the institution of an in depth refuelling infrastructure, which doesn’t seem like occurring within the medium time period.
Burning hydrogen can be inefficient, with solely a fraction of the vitality used to energy the automobile.
However Toyota is adamant it will possibly play a job.
The Hydrogen HiAce that will probably be evaluated by chosen fleets in Australia is the subsequent step in a program that would ultimately contact autos such because the LandCruiser and HiLux.