At the Kenshiki Forum 2023 in Brussels, Toyota Motor Europe (TME) announced the establishment of Hydrogen Factory Europe, a new venture for the commercialisation of hydrogen technology and systems – spanning everything from development and production, through to sales and aftersales.
The Hydrogen Factory, situated in Belgium will be responsible for producing an increasing number of fuel cell systems and supporting a widening group of commercial partnerships, in line with the Japanese company’s strategy to achieve carbon neutrality in Europe by 2040, ten years ahead of Toyota’s global target.
Toyota expects Europe to be one of the world’s largest hydrogen fuel cell markets by 2030, with steady acceleration of different mobility and power generation applications. Growing investment and regulatory measures are encouraging development and market growth. These include €45 billion investment from the European Commission’s Green Deal by 2027 and the EU’s transport infrastructure fund has awarded €284 million – or approximately one third of its budget – for the installation of hydrogen refuelling stations.
The recent confirmation of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII) requires 42% of hydrogen used by industry in Europe to derive from sustainable sources by 2030. Along with the plans to build hydrogen filling stations at a minimum 200 km intervals along the region’s TEN-T (trans-European Transport Network) corridors, Europe is positioning itself at the centre of hydrogen technology. The pan-European locations shown on the map included Ireland and its TENT-T routes, which stretches along the east and over to the west but to serve Galway only, nothing north of that, which is totally inadequate to meet the needs of motorists or transport in general nationwide.
Thiebault Paquet, TME Vice President and Head of Fuel Cell Business, said: “Europe is showing long-term confidence in hydrogen and so do we. We will continue to develop fuel cell passenger cars and other light duty vehicles while we have broadened our focus towards heavy-duty transport to support the expansion of viable hydrogen infrastructure. We aim to further develop and learn through testing in our own network and with partners who share our approach.”
Toyota introduced the world’s first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell sedan, the Mirai, in 2015. The second generation Mirai was launched in 2020 reaffirming the company’s commitment to hydrogen-powered passenger vehicles. Fuel cell electric passenger cars benefit of a long driving range and quick refuelling, and over 1,000 of these four door saloons are in operation in Paris as taxis with a good refuelling network available.
As demonstrated at the Brussels conference, Toyota is further broadening its exploration towards light duty FCEVs. On display was its first hydrogen-fuelled Hilux FCEV Prototype pick-up. Produced by a Toyota-led consortium in the UK, the prototype demonstrates how a fuel cell might be incorporated in a pick-up truck. Thanks to hydrogen being light, a higher payload and towing capabilities can be obtained for light duty FCEVs compared to other zero-emission alternatives.
At recent commercial vehicle trade shows, Toyota presented its fuel cell technology development into heavy-duty transport and applications for some years now and has recently entered the strategic truck market in Europe, with hydrogen-powered trucks from the French manufacturer Hyliko and the Netherlands-based VDL Groep. Toyota will be using the hydrogen-powered VDL trucks to decarbonise its own logistics operations. The company is also expanding its partnership with Corvus in Norway for future marine applications, like ships and vessels. Furthermore, French clean mobility company GCK will use Toyota’s fuel cell modules to convert diesel coaches to zero-emission hydrogen vehicles.
Building on its extensive experience, Toyota is developing next-generation hydrogen fuel cell technology that is expected to deliver industry leading performance through longer lifecycles and reduced costs. “The new fuel cell technology, scheduled for sales in 2026, will deliver a higher power density. The new fuel cell system is expected to have a 20% increase in driving range, whereas technical advances and increased production volumes are expected to help reduce costs by more than a third. Further research is also looking at the potential of scalable fuel cell stacks with different power outputs and design of fuel tanks with complex shapes, compatible with different size vehicles,” concluded Thiebault.