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Showing once again what is possible, Toyota reveals a hydrogen-fueled pickup truck conversion, which emits just water vapors.

While this is just a demonstration vehicle for now, it shows how much simpler the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain is for the Hilux, a global truck similar to the Tacoma, and how quickly Toyota could bring such a truck into production.

Toyota hydrogen-fueled pickup history

The Toyota Hilux is a second example of this application, as Toyota did a similar setup with a Toyota Tundra in the U.S.

Both of these trucks utilize existing technology found in the Toyota Mirai, a sedan sold in California that uses hydrogen tanks, a battery and electric motors to produce 182 horsepower.

This horsepower number might seem low, but keep in mind, this is electric power and Toyota can program it to have more horsepower for any vehicle’s needs.

Toyota has been working on hydrogen options for years with the Mirai, a project in the LA ports utilizing hydrogen-powered Kenworth semi trucks, hydrogen fuel cell buses and several other SUVs and cars in Japan.

Currently, in the U.S., hydrogen remains a niche product with refueling stations primarily in California. However, with refueling times mirroring gasoline engine times and experts predicting a significant drop in hydrogen costs, it is an intriguing option — especially for those who take long distance trips or frequently heavy loads.

Globally, hydrogen has been gaining attention with China, Japan, India and the European Union looking closer at this technology as an other option besides battery electric vehicles. This Hilux, for example, is part of a UK Government funding grant to work out the details on how this vehicle would provide for commercial operations.

This three-year grant is expected to result in a small series production of the truck to meet the needs of commercial operations and the sector’s move toward decarbonization.

The bottom line

Still a pipe dream to some, it is an intriguing option for others since the current crop of new electric trucks has so far faced heavy criticism for towing range and cold weather’s impact on the real-world driving range.

Hydrogen has the same infrastructure challenges as battery electric vehicles, and it is going to be interesting to watch this play out in the following decades.


Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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