Toyota and Hyundai have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together alongside Ampol and Pacific Energy to develop hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in Australia.
The announcement came on the back of a solid week of messaging from Toyota around its multi-approach strategy to decarbonisation at the Tokyo motor show.
The Japanese giant expects to head into the next decade and beyond with multiple bets across battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen, synthetic fuels as well as traditional internal-combustion engines.
Toyota and Hyundai already have hydrogen-powered vehicles in Australia with the Mirai and Nexo, respectively, although neither model is being sold directly to the public, with the cars instead leased to select organisations and businesses that can use one of the less than ten hydrogen refuelling stations nationally.
Ampol announced in August it’s working on developing additional hydrogen refuelling stations on the back of a report by the CSIRO, which recommended energy providers and the government to ramp up support for the technology or risk falling behind significantly compared to Europe.
Speaking to the media about the announcement last week, Sean Hanley, the vice president of sales and marketing at Toyota Australia, said that the company’s fuel cell business was ‘growing steadily’.
“It began with local trials of Mirai and then with the establishment of Victoria’s first hydrogen production, storage and refuelling facility at Altona,” Mr Hanley said
“In 2021, we launched the second-generation Mirai in an extended program where it is being leased by a select group of pioneering organisations and businesses and just last week, we announced plans to assemble up to 100 fuel-cell generators at our Altona facility.”
Mr Hanley admitted that for hydrogen to work, manufacturers need to work together to get the refuelling infrastructure to a point where it becomes more viable.
“Both Toyota and Hyundai have fuel-cell electric vehicles in customer programs while Ampol and Pacific Energy are heavily invested in growing sustainable energy development and distribution,” he said.
“This MOU is a vital development because hydrogen ecosystems must involve sectors uniting so they can bring together their skills, technologies and applications.”
Although no specific details of what the MOU will mean were given, it seems likely that Toyota and Hyundai will now help fund – alongside Ampol and Pacific Energy – additional refuelling stations across the country.
According to Mr Hanley, the sale of hydrogen-powered Toyota vehicles is a possibility around 2025 if the infrastructure is mature enough, although there was no solid confirmation of that taking place or an estimation of the vehicle costs (which are higher than battery-electric vehicles in other markets).