Toyota’s new hydrogen powertrain technology to be trialled in Australia

Toyota Hydrogen HiAce Prototype. Image credit: Toyota

Toyota has introduced a prototype HiAce powered by a new hydrogen powertrain technology, which will undergo a customer pilot program in Australia later this month.

The hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine, offering ultra-low CO2 tailpipe emissions, has been unveiled as part of Toyota’s global decarbonisation strategy, which includes investments in carbon-neutral fuels and hybrid-electric vehicles.

Australian companies are set to test the Hydrogen HiAce prototype in real-world conditions, aiming to develop fit-for-purpose commercial vehicles with ultra-low CO2 tailpipe emissions.

The customer drive program will enable customers to assess and provide feedback on hydrogen-powered vehicles, aiming to support Toyota’s development and commercialisation of these vehicles.


Toyota Australia, under President and CEO Matthew Callachor, has been chosen by its parent company in Japan to operate the country’s first pilot program.

“This technology offers the potential for Toyota to produce vehicles that meet the practical requirements of commercial customers while dramatically reducing CO2 tailpipe emissions,” Callachor stated.

According to him, the pilot program for a new hydrogen powertrain technology builds on the company’s significant development and investment in the hydrogen sector.

“Australia is the perfect place to run such a program with our Federal and State Governments having already committed $6.3 billion in funding for hydrogen projects under the National Hydrogen Strategy,” he noted.

“We also have an extensive variety of environments and climatic conditions that will enable us to evaluate the hydrogen powertrain technology to its fullest and ensure it delivers on Toyota’s high standards,” he added.

Toyota developed hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine technology in Japan in 2017, which debuted in 2021 in a Corolla Sport that raced in the Super Taikyu series.

The company then developed the technology for the HiAce, incorporating its experience and knowledge from testing it in extreme motorsport conditions.

The Australian pilot program’s Hydrogen HiAce uses a V6 turbo petrol engine from the LandCruiser 300 Series, paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission for rear wheels.

The engine has been modified to operate on compressed hydrogen gas, using a unique direct-injection system that meets Euro VI emission standards.

The hydrogen powertrain produces nearly zero CO2 tailpipe emissions but produces small amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx) through a selective catalytic reduction system, meeting Euro VI emission standards.

Toyota is enhancing the powertrain of its prototype Mirai by improving hydrogen storage, combustion, and exploring hybrid technology, similar to the third-generation Mirai.

The pilot program aims to expedite the development of a new powertrain, allowing various potential customers to use the vehicle for commuter or delivery purposes.

Toyota is in talks with several interested companies, including CPB Contractors, a leading Australian designer and builder of large-scale infrastructure.

CPB Contractors will utilise the Commuter version of the HiAce to transport workers across a significant Melbourne infrastructure project.

Toyota Australia’s Hydrogen HiAce pilot program aims to boost Australia’s hydrogen economy and promote a sustainable future through significant development projects.

In 2018, the company tested the first-generation Mirai FCEV with multiple Melbourne councils.

In 2021, the Toyota Hydrogen Centre in Victoria commissioned Victoria’s first hydrogen production, storage, and refuelling facility at Altona.

Lastly, Toyota recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hyundai Australia, Ampol, and Pacific Energy to develop hydrogen refuelling infrastructure.

In addition to transport applications, Toyota has committed to assembling fuel-cell generators for French energy supplier EODev at its Altona site. The company will also distribute generators in Australia and New Zealand.