Next-Gen Toyota Prius Could Be Hydrogen Powered
Toyota has been struggling to find a place for the Prius in recent years. For about two decades after it launched, the Prius stood out first as a pioneer in the hybrid segment and then as a leader. But today, even Toyota’s own new hybrids are pushing the Prius out of what was once a niche.
Reports by Forbes and Best Car Web suggest the automaker is working to introduce a hydrogen-powered Prius, though their estimates as to when this would happen are conflicting. But timetable aside, it’s not an implausible development.
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Earlier this year, Toyota brought a Corolla Sport race car equipped with a hydrogen-powered combustion engine (not to be confused with hydrogen fuel cell technology) to a 24-hour race in Fuji. At the time, Toyota was adamant that hydrogen combustion had benefits that made the tech a worthwhile consideration for the future, but it hasn’t said much about it since.
Forbes claims the fifth-generation Prius will launch with a 1.8-liter hybrid powertrain in December 2022, followed by a hydrogen plug-in hybrid model in 2023. Would Toyota actually do this? Even for a company that is notoriously resisting the push to BEVs, it can seem like a stretch, unless they’ve hit on something nobody else knows about.
From the outside, the technology looks a long way from being ready. While hydrogen combustion engines do not produce carbon dioxide, they do produce harmful NOx emissions. Additionally, they’re less efficient at producing power than traditional combustion engines. With some time, who knows? Hydrogen combustion engines might have potential. But the world is out of time and cannot put dirty propulsion systems behind it soon enough.
Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.