Toyota Motor Company has commissioned Japanese manufacturing company Yamaha Motor to develop a hydrogen-powered, internal-combustion V8 engine for automobiles.
Although this engine uses the same fuel source as the Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV), it’s internal combustion-based with hydrogen as the fuel instead of relying on a chemical reaction in fuel cells to generate energy.
Based on a 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine from the Lexus RC F coupe, this hydrogen-powered engine produces up to 335kW of power and 540Nm of torque.
This is 16kW less than the equivalent petrol-powered unit in the RC F, yet it produces 10Nm more torque.
Yamaha says it’s made modifications to the engine’s injectors, cylinder heads, and intake manifold so it can be fuelled with hydrogen rather than petrol.
Unique to hydrogen-powered engines, Yamaha says there’s a “harmonic high-frequency exhaust note produced by the engine’s 8-into-1 exhaust manifold.”
The development of this engine stems from an announcement in November 2021 where Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Subaru, Toyota, Mazda, and Yamaha Motor jointly announced they’d begin conducting research into alternate fuel sources for internal combustion engines.
“Hydrogen engines house the potential to be carbon-neutral while keeping our passion for the internal combustion engine alive at the same time,” said Yamaha Motor president Yoshihiro Hidaka.
Currently, Yamaha Motor is aiming to be fully carbon neutral by 2050.
Yamaha says it began developing a hydrogen engine for automobiles about five years ago.
“I started to see that engines using on hydrogen for fuel actually had very fun, easy-to-use performance characteristics,” said Takeshi Yamada from the Technical Research and Development (R&D) Centre’s automotive development section.
“Hydrogen engines have an innately friendly feel that makes them easy to use even without resorting to electronic driving aids.”
Toyota revealed a hydrogen-powered GR Yaris concept shortly after the alternate fuel source joint announcement in December 2021.
This GR Yaris concept is powered by a 1.6-litre ‘G16E-GTS’ turbocharged inline-three-cylinder engine that’s very similar to the petrol-powered GR Yaris but has a modified fuel supply and injection system for the hydrogen fuel source.
It’s also the same engine used in the Corolla Sport race car, which has been competing in the Super Taikyu endurance racing series in Japan since May 2021 under the Rookie Racing division of Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Toyota says this engine technology is “still in the early stages of development and not yet ready for commercialisation.”
The Japanese automaker says it’ll continue developing its own hydrogen-powered engine through the lens of motorsport for now.
Toyota has a strong and well storied history with the Yamaha as it developed engines for the Toyota 2000GT, MR2, and Celica sports cars.
It also developed the iconic 1LF-GUE V10 engine used in the Lexus LFA supercar.