Toyota Races World’s First Hydrogen Race Car To Promote Alternative To Electric Cars

Toyota, which up until now, has resisted the industry trend to introduce electric cars, is now touting hydrogen-engined cars. Last weekend, in Japan’s only full-day race, the Fuji 24 Hours, Japan’s biggest automaker entered a specially prepared hydrogen-engine powered Corolla Sport race car, driven in part by company CEO and avid amateur racer, Akio Toyoda, and FIA World Endurance Championship legend Kamui Kobayashi.

The reason? Toyota wants to use motorsport to promote hydrogen as a viable alternative to electric cars. Toyota has only just launched its second-generation hydrogen fuel-cell powered Mirai sedan, but this is the first time the company has raced a car powered by hydrogen. At this stage, it is probably a good idea to quickly explain that the Mirai’s powertrain and that of the Corolla race car are very different. The Mirai generates electricity to power its motors from a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen where as hydrogen engined vehicles, are like conventional engined cars except that they burn hydrogen in place of gasoline.

The Rookie Racing Corolla Sport which burns compressed hydrogen to power its turbocharged 1.6-liter inline 3-cylinder engine completed a total of 358 laps at an average speed of 67 km/h, a lap count which translated to less than half that completed by the race-winning Nissan GT-R.

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