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Toyota's Latest Partnership Assures Internal Combustion Engines Are Here To Stay

ExxonMobil and Toyota are partnering up to introduce a greener fuel that would reduce CO2 emissions without any downsides. What does that mean for Toyota's other alternative fuel efforts?

In a recent press release, Toyota shared information about its partnership with American oil and gas corporation, ExonMobil, to prolong the service life of internal combustion engines. By now, we know EVs are not a universal solution despite having certain, undeniable advantages. Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda was the first to voice this publicly, saying that fully electrified products will only comprise 30 percent of sales "no matter how much progress BEVs make". 

Despite that, car companies are still being pushed to reduce their carbon footprint. Hydrogen is still on the table as a viable alternative, now more than ever, since recent advancements in hydrogen production mean that the green fuel will become a lot more attainable in the foreseeable future. 

Still, Toyota's latest partnership with ExxonMobil is a perfect example of not putting “all your eggs in a single basket". Despite Toyota seemingly being the closest to giving us a feasible, hydrogen-powered vehicle, people will not easily forget the Toyota Mirai fiasco, which turned out to be significantly more expensive to run than the Toyota Camry.  

Real-life tests are already being carried out and the results are excellent 

Toyota RAV4 used as a test vehicle for ExxonMobil's new, low-emission fuels

Toyota and ExxonMobil have been running tests with these green fuels and it sounds like things are ready to be green-lit. Senior Principal Engineer, Brianne Kanach, said "When it comes to using low-emission liquid fuels, if you try to put it in your vehicle today, you wouldn't notice the difference, at all. We designed those fuels to match performance standards that exist to ensure that vehicle performance achieves just what it's supposed to do".  

These research fuels can, reportedly, reduce the lifecycle of greenhouse gases by up to 75 percent versus conventional fossil fuels. The best part is these fuels can work with the existing infrastructure and work with the internal-combustion-powered vehicles we have now. This means three things: 

1. You can fill your car with this low-emission fuel by going to a conventional gas station, using the same exact refilling process. 

2. The combustion-powered vehicles do not require any modifications to the powertrain in order to utilize the low-emission fuel.  

3. The car will not lose performance, compared to if it's running on gasoline.  

The unknowns 

There are still unfamiliar variables to the end consumer and many questions are in order. For starters, the fuel contents are unknown to the public as of yet. While this could chalked up to corporate secrecy, we would like to know if and how it will affect engine durability in the long run.  

Also, looking at the situation with hydrogen fuel and what Porsche is doing with its synthetic fuels, we doubt this will start off as a more attainable alternative to gasoline. Then, there's the question of logistics. Where will it be produced? How will it get to the consumer? At what cost? ExxonMobil has numerous production facilities in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Europe, Asia Pacific, and other regions, so we might already be looking at a scaled production. 

What this means for Toyota's hydrogen-burning engines 

Toyota already proved hydrogen-burning, combustion engines can be a thing with a couple of liquid-hydrogen-burning, combustion-powered models like the GR Yaris, GR Corolla, and Toyota GR86, which successfully competed in the Super Taikyu racing series. 

We also know Toyota and Yamaha are working on a liquid-hydrogen-powered V-8 engine, a version of which could be seen in the Lexus LF-A successor. However, we know that in order to work with hydrogen fuel, the internal combustion engine needed to undergo a few modifications.  

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil and Toyota's partnership proves that greener fuels are feasible without making alterations to the engine design. Moreover, hydrogen storage is more expensive as it requires special, insulated tanks. It needs to be at –253 degrees Celsius to minimize vaporization and maintain optimal temperature.

Still, Toyota's new CEO, Koji Sato, assures there will be use for hydrogen. Despite that, one clear thing is that  ExxonMobil and Toyota may have found a more cost-effective way to keep the internal combustion engine around. 

About the author 

Dimitar Angelov's automotive interests made him an expert in a wide variety of vehicles. Japanese brands like Toyota are closest to his heart, although performance cars in general are his favorite segment, which is why he is constantly on the lookout for the best deals on the market. Dimitar Angelov's car passion and knack for the written word led him to complete a Master of Arts in Media and Communications, and classic car restoration. Dim is happy to get behind the wheel of any car and share his impressions. You can follow Dimitar on XLinked-inInstagram, and Facebook.

Image source: ExxonMobil and Toyota Work Together to Demonstrate Lower Emission Fuel Performance