Kurt Verlin
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Toyota and Yamaha Developing Hydrogen-Powered V8 Engine

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Japanese manufacturers seek carbon-neutral combustion options

Hydrogen-powered Toyota Corolla Sport
Photo: Toyota

Toyota and Yamaha have announced a new partnership revolving around the development of a 5.0-liter V8 engine that runs on hydrogen rather than gasoline. If that seems out of left field, it is — even for Toyota, which has been the car industry’s biggest proponent of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. But hydrogen FCVs are powered by electricity — not combustion.

Hydrogen-powered combustion engines are not new, but they’re not exactly widespread. Toyota modified a Corolla Sport to run on hydrogen at a single motorsport event last year, and there have been rumors that the next-gen Prius might run on hydrogen as well. But as the world seems to be moving away from combustion, developing a hydrogen-powered V8 is a strange move.

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Nonetheless, as wild as the concept might seem, Yamaha’s involvement alone makes the endeavor seem more promising. Typically, when the two companies collaborate, they produce gold. You’ve probably heard of their work — literally speaking. Toyota and Yamaha worked together to produce the legendary 4.8-liter V10 used in the Lexus LFA supercar, and it was Yamaha’s expertise with resonances that enabled that engine to produce that iconic Formula 1-like sound.

In this case, Yamaha will work with Toyota to modify the existing 5.0-liter V8 used in the Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance and RC F. This includes modifications to the cylinder heads, intake manifold, and injectors. The multinational conglomerate, which makes everything from pianos and sound systems to motorbikes and snowmobiles, says the hydrogen V8 engine will produce 455 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque.

The announcement was accompanied by another: that Toyota, Yamaha, Subaru, Mazda, and Kawasaki would all be working together to conduct “collaborative research into possible avenues for expanding the range of fuel options for internal combustion engines in the quest for carbon neutrality.” This seems to be part of a quest to keep engines interesting for old-school enthusiasts without compromising the dream of a zero-emission future.

“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. “Teaming up with companies with different corporate cultures and areas of expertise as well as growing the number of partners we have is how we want to lead the way into the future.”