Kurt Verlin
No Comments

Next-Gen Toyota Prius Could Be Hydrogen Powered

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page
2021 Toyota Prius 2020 Edition badge
Photo: Toyota

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.

Hybrids & More: These are the Toyota cars that use alternative fuel

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.