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Hydrogen fuel cell Hilux project reaches demonstration phase

A groundbreaking project to realize a H2 fuel cell Hilux pick-up has moved into its next and final phase, signaling yet another milestone in Toyota’s progress towards a zero-carbon future. Since the unveiling of the first prototype vehicle in September 2023, Toyota and its consortium partners, supported by UK Government funding, have reached an intensive evaluation and demonstration stage.

The latest landmark in this joint development project further demonstrates the broad scope of Toyota’s multi-path strategy towards carbon neutrality, applying different powertrain solutions – hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, fuel cell electric and e-fuels – to suit different user needs and local infrastructure.

A total of 10 fuel cell Hilux prototypes have now been built at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK) facility in Derby, England. Five vehicles are undergoing rigorous field testing to assess safety, performance, functionality, and durability, generating test drive data in real-world situations. Five further units are engaged in customer and media demonstrations, including at the forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024. By engaging customers with H2 fuel cell technology, Toyota is laying the groundwork for a successful H2 transport sector in the future.

Along with Toyota’s 30 years of research and development into H2 fuel cells, know-how from the Hilux project will contribute to the next generation of fuel cell technology, which will offer longer lifecycles, increased driving range for vehicles and significantly reduced costs.

Toyota expects Europe to be one of the largest H2 fuel cell markets by 2030, with steady growth in mobility and power generation applications. As a result, in December 2023 Toyota Motor Europe (TME) announced the H2 Factory Europe, representing Toyota’s coordinated approach to the commercialization of this technology, from development and production to sales and aftersales.

The fuel cell Hilux prototype project is an important steppingstone to further develop H2 technology and stimulate a wider roll-out of H2 ecosystems and infrastructure across Europe.


Based on the legendary Toyota Hilux, with its reputation for Quality, Durability and Reliability (QDR) on the world’s toughest terrain, the H2 fuel cell prototype Toyota Hilux showcases how fuel cell technology can be integrated into a pick-up.

Since its initial launch in 1968, the Hilux has proved its invincibility time and again, having conquered the North Pole, Icelandic volcanoes and the Antarctic continent, whilst also achieving three victories in the Dakar Rally. The fuel cell Hilux retains that uncompromising DNA whilst looking to a zero-carbon future.

Externally, the fuel cell Hilux retains the same dimensions and rugged appearance as the latest Hilux. In extra-cab format, it is 5,325 mm long, 1,855 mm wide and 1,810 mm tall but beneath the surface, Toyota’s fuel cell technology marks it out as a trailblazer.

Power is delivered using core elements from the Toyota Mirai – technology that has proved its quality in almost a decade of commercial production since Toyota introduced the world’s first mass-produced H2 fuel cell sedan in 2015.

The fuel cell Hilux has an expected driving range of up to 600 km – further than might be achieved with a battery electric system. Meanwhile, thanks to H2’s light weight, a higher payload and towing capability can be achieved compared to other zero-emission alternatives.

H2 is stored in three high-pressure fuel tanks, each containing 2.6 kg for a total system capacity of 7.8 kg. The tanks are mounted within the ladder frame chassis.

The polymer electrolyte fuel cell stack contains 330 cells and is mounted above the front axle. The fuel cell Hilux is rear-wheel drive via an e-motor on the rear axle which delivers 134 kW (182 DIN hp) of maximum power and 300 Nm maximum torque. When driving, the fuel cell produces no tailpipe emissions, only pure water.

A Lithium-ion hybrid battery, which stores the electricity produced on-board by the fuel cell, is positioned in the rear load deck, above the H2 tanks. This avoids any loss of cabin space.


Starting with a feasibility study in early 2022 to demonstrate the advantages of H2 via a representative prototype vehicle, the H2 fuel cell Hilux prototype project has moved forwards at pace towards its concluding phase.

The feasibility study, undertaken by TMUK and TME, enabled subsequent funding from the UK Government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a non-profit organization supporting the development of cleaner technologies and new mobility concepts.

An intense design and development program ran from July 2022 to January 2023, alongside consortium partners Ricardo, ETL, D2H Advanced Technologies, Thatcham Research and with additional support from Toyota Motor Corporation.

Parts manufacturing, including chassis frame welding, took place between February and May 2023, prior to prototype construction, which followed Toyota Production System principles in a dedicated area within the TMUK facility. Ricardo supported preparations for the prototype build, carrying out design and development tasks and confirming the complete manufacturing process in parallel with teams at TMUK.

Prototype construction took place between June and July 2023 and the first vehicle was completed in just three weeks. A further nine prototypes were assembled prior to a thorough evaluation phase from July to December last year, including test rig and track testing.

Those ten prototypes are now undergoing field testing alongside customer engagement activities, which will conclude the final phase of this research and demonstration project for the fuel cell Hilux.