Toyota said it “firmly believes it is too early to focus on a single zero emission solution” (it currently offers two types of EV and two hybrid powertrains) and is therefore concurrently developing hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen combustion technology alongside battery electric.

Technical progress achieved with motorsport has given engineers the confidence to create a prototype road car – the Corolla Cross H2 Concept.

This version of a mid-size SUV sold mainly in Asia is powered by the 1.6 litre, three cylinder turbocharged engine featured in the GR Corolla performance model, re-engineered with high-pressure hydrogen direct injection technology. The prototype is also fitted with hydrogen fuel tanks, using knowledge gained from development of the Mirai fuel cell electric saloon.

The prototype is able to accommodate five passengers and their luggage. Real world evaluation is being carried out alongside digital development and the vehicle will soon undergo winter testing in northern Japan.

The key merits of hydrogen combustion include the ability to leverage existing internal combustion engine technology, quick refuelling times and clear reduction in the use and need for limited supply resources such as lithium and nickel.

“Toyota believes that by adapting existing technologies and further leverage of existing investments, hydrogen combustion could lead to widespread, accessible carbon reduction solutions being available sooner,” the automaker said.

It reckons it is around 40% along the path to the commercialisation of products such as the concept.

“It is not yet possible to say whether the technology will reach maturity for road cars but there is without doubt a clear opportunity in motorsport.”