Sato made the announcement at a recent race event in Japan, where Toyota’s hydrogen-powered GR Corolla race car caught fire during testing. While Toyota is currently working on a new platform for electric vehicles, the company’s bet on hydrogen cars has not been as successful. Toyota offers the Mirai, a hydrogen-powered sedan, but has only sold 21,700 units to date, despite increasing production capacity. Sato emphasized the need for an “EV-first” mindset, but stated that hydrogen will still play a role in Toyota’s overall strategy for achieving carbon neutrality.
Toyota’s Focus on Hydrogen
Despite the increasing popularity of electric vehicles, Toyota remains committed to hydrogen fuel cell technology. In a recent statement, incoming CEO Koji Sato emphasized the need for a “production and transport supply chain” for hydrogen, noting that without these developments, a “volume increase” in the energy’s use would not be possible. Toyota is currently working on the second generation of its hydrogen-powered Mirai sedan, which it hopes will be a more attractive option for customers. Sato made his comments on the sidelines of an endurance race at Suzuka Circuit in western Japan recently.
At the same time, Toyota is also investing in electric vehicles. The company is working on a new platform dedicated to electric vehicles that it expects to release in 2026. The platform should offer better performance at lower costs, and Toyota hopes to sell 3.5 million electric vehicles worldwide by 2030. Sato has also emphasized the need for an “EV-first” mindset at the company, indicating that Toyota will be focusing more on electric vehicles than on hydrogen in the coming years.
Toyota’s Bet on Hydrogen
Despite Toyota’s continued interest in hydrogen, the company’s bet on the technology has not been as successful as its bet on hybrids. In fact, in June 2021, Torque News EV reporter Dean McManis published an article about Toyota's hydrogen racer vehicle with a sceptic title: Toyota's Hydrogen Racer is a Flawed Concept.
While Toyota was a pioneer in the hybrid market with its Prius, the company has struggled to find similar success with its hydrogen-powered Mirai. Toyota had hoped to sell 30,000 units of the second-generation Mirai per year, but to date, the company has only sold 21,700 units of both the first and second-generation models.
One of the challenges with hydrogen fuel cell technology is the lack of infrastructure to support it. While electric vehicles can be charged at home or at public charging stations, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles require specialized fueling stations that are not yet widely available. Toyota has been working to address this issue by partnering with other companies to build more fueling stations, but progress has been slow.
Toyota’s Overall Strategy
Despite the challenges with hydrogen fuel cell technology, Sato has emphasized that it will still play a role in Toyota’s overall strategy for achieving carbon neutrality. Toyota is taking a multi-pronged approach to reducing emissions, including full electric cars, hybrids, and hydrogen cars. The company’s focus on hydrogen may also help it differentiate itself from other automakers that are primarily focused on electric vehicles.
At the same time, Sato has also emphasized the need for an “EV-first” mindset at Toyota. The company’s new platform for electric vehicles is evidence of its commitment to electrification, and Toyota hopes to sell 3.5 million electric vehicles worldwide by 2030. Ultimately, Toyota’s success in achieving carbon neutrality will depend on its ability to balance its focus on both electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
A recent incident at a race event in Japan highlights some of the challenges with hydrogen fuel cell technology. Toyota had planned to compete with its hydrogen-powered GR Corolla race car, but the vehicle caught fire during testing due to a leak in its hydrogen fuel line. The incident underscores the safety concerns that come with using hydrogen as a fuel source. While the incident is undoubtedly a setback for Toyota, the company is likely to continue its research and development efforts in the field.
Implications for the Industry
Toyota’s continued focus on hydrogen fuel cell technology could have broader implications for the automotive industry. While electric vehicles have been gaining in popularity, there are still some concerns about their range and charging infrastructure. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, on the other hand, offer longer ranges and shorter refueling times. If Toyota can overcome some of the challenges with hydrogen fuel cell technology, it could position itself as a leader in the field.
At the same time, however, Toyota’s bet on hydrogen could be seen as risky. Other automakers, such as Tesla, have focused primarily on electric vehicles, and it remains to be seen whether there will be a market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the long term. Toyota’s continued investment in the technology could be seen as a gamble, but it could also pay off if the company can overcome the challenges associated with it.
I think Toyota’s continued focus on hydrogen could have broader implications for the automotive industry, as the company positions itself as a leader in the field. Ultimately, Toyota’s success in achieving carbon neutrality will depend on its ability to balance its focus on both electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell technology.
What do you think friends, which is the best strategy for Toyota when it comes to EV vs Hydrogen? Let us know please your thoughts in the comments' section below.
Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded TorqueNews.com in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News Twitter, Facebok, Linkedin and Youtube.