The Hydrogen GR Yaris, or GR Yaris H2, made its European debut in front of crowds at Ypres Rally Belgium, where it tackled some of the event’s course as demonstration runs.
Not only was this the first time for Toyota to drive an under-development hydrogen-engine vehicle on public roads outside Japan, but Toyota President Akio Toyoda was behind the wheel, aided by former Finnish driver and four-time WRC champion Juha Kankkunen in the passenger seat.
The GR Yaris H2 took to the rally course as a test car in Special Stage (SS) 11 on the second day of Ypres Rally Belgium. The 15-kilometer SS 11 was charted along extremely narrow farm roads that ran along fields and between houses, making for a stage that was challenging even for professional championship rally drivers. The GR Yaris served as a test car and ran ahead of a safety car sent out to confirm stage safety before the start of SS 11.
Hydrogen GR Yaris: world debut
The hydrogen fuel, fuel tanks and refuelling process found in the hydrogen GR Yaris are the same as those in the Mirai. However, while Mirai employs chemical reactions in the fuel cells to generate energy, the experimental GR Yaris features an internal combustion engine with hydrogen as the fuel.
The hydrogen combustion engine technology is still in the early stages of conceptual development and experimentation, having started in 2017, and is not yet ready for commercialisation. Nonetheless, Toyota’s experimental hydrogen-powered Corolla Sport is already delivering high performance at motorsport events in Japan with almost zero tailpipe emissions.
The hydrogen-powered experimental GR Yaris and the Corolla Sport both feature the same G16E-GTS, 1.6-litre, in-line 3-cylinder, turbocharged engine that is found in the GR Yaris, but with a modified fuel supply and injection system for use with hydrogen as fuel.
The experimental hydrogen-powered Corolla Sport has been competing in the Super Taikyu race series in Japan since May this year under the ROOKIE Racing arm of Toyota Gazoo Racing. The team has taken on the challenge to test the experimental hydrogen combustion engine under the harsh environments of motorsport.
Hydrogen combusts at a faster rate than petrol, resulting in good responsiveness while delivering excellent environmental performance. In addition to being extremely clean, hydrogen combustion has the potential to deliver a fun-to-drive experience with the acoustic and sensory sensations that characterise internal combustion engines.
Toyota has been strengthening its efforts towards achieving carbon neutrality, such as by aiming to promote the use of hydrogen through the popularisation of FCEVs and numerous other fuel-cell-powered products. By further refining its hydrogen engine technologies through motorsports, it intends to aim for the realisation of an even better hydrogen-based society.