Toyota is leading a consortium to develop a prototype hydrogen fuel cell powered version of its Hilux pickup at the company’s UK vehicle plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire.

The model is imported but Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK) has successfully secured UK government funding for the project through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), an organisation supporting the development of cleaner technology and new mobility concepts.

The APC funding will enable TMUK to develop hydrogen technology for this specific vehicle market segment during the next three years.

The consortium, led by TMUK, will receive funding to cover the development of a hydrogen fuel cell electric Hilux, working in collaboration with UK-based Ricardo, ETL, D2H and Thatcham Research.

The project will use components from Toyota’s second generation fuel cell system, as used in the latest Mirai saloon, to transform a Hilux into an electric vehicle.

Toyota Motor Europe (TME) R&D will provide technical support.

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The APC, is a non-profit organisation working with the UK government, the automotive industry and academic bodies to accelerate the industrialisation of technology to support the transition to net-zero emission vehicles delivery.

Its funding specifically covers the later stage research and development that progresses a product from proof of concept to a prototype vehicle.

Initial prototype vehicles will be produced at Burnaston during 2023. Once successful performance results have been secured, the intention is to prepare the vehicle for small series production.

“The project is an exciting opportunity to investigate a further application of Toyota’s fuel cell technology in a vehicle segment that is key to a number of industry groups and will help support the sector’s move towards decarbonisation,” Toyota said.

Richard Kenworthy, TMUK managing director, said: “This UK government funding will enable teams within the consortium to acquire key skills that can then be used to investigate other fuel cell applications.”