technology

Toyota relies on a hydrogen car without a fuel cell

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Just recently, Toyota also announced a major offensive in terms of electric cars. A total of 70 electric models are expected to come onto the market by 2025, 15 of which will only have an electric motor. The announcement came as a surprise. Because previously, the Japanese group had primarily relied on hydrogen as a sustainable drive source. Here, too, the group now seems to want to break new ground. In Fuji, Japan, a hydrogen-powered Toyota Corolla converted for racing is to take part in a 24-hour race. The specialty: Toyota does not use a fuel cell. Instead, the hydrogen is fed into an internal combustion engine and burned there directly. There are no CO2 emissions here either, only water remains. The carbon footprint of this drive technology, in turn, depends on how the hydrogen was generated.


The hydrogen is burned in the engine like gasoline
In classic hydrogen cars, a fuel cell is usually integrated. This uses the gas to generate electricity and in turn drives an electric motor. This time, however, the Toyota engineers chose a slightly different route. They took a 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine from a Toyota Yaris GR and made it ready for use with hydrogen. This required changes to the injection technology and the general fuel supply, among other things. In principle, however, the hydrogen is then burned in the same way as gasoline. The desired drive is also created in the same way. However, the engineers expect advantages at the start because the air-hydrogen mixture in the engine responds faster than classic gasoline. In a 24-hour race, the importance of the start is of course put into perspective over time. Participation initially only serves to gather experience.


BMW once worked on a similar technology
So far there are no plans to bring the adapted form of the hydrogen drive into series production. The approach is not really new either. BMW, for example, also researched such a drive in the early 2000s. In 2002, the company even announced the production of a "0-liter car" called BMW Hydrogen 7 in a promotional manner. This could also be converted to a classic gasoline drive. Because the range was limited at 200 kilometers and the network of hydrogen filling stations was even more sparse than it is today. Ultimately, only a three-digit number of vehicles was produced. These were also not sold, but given to celebrities on a leasing basis. For a while, Plácido Domingo, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Guido Westerwelle and Roland Berger out and about by car. How often they actually used the hydrogen drive, however, is not known.