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Going Green without Breaking the Bank

In the previous issue of 5000s, we talked about Japan, one of the world’s automotive giants, which is investing in the electric vehicle (EV) industry with a bet on pushing a hot ‘Carbon Neutrality’ policy by 2030.

The transition from combustion engine vehicles to all EVs has been quite slow so far because there is an alternative energy available. This is based on their belief that EVs may not be the only answer to energy and environmental sustainability.

In this issue, I will talk about hydrogen-powered cars that seem to answer the question, both in terms of technology, the environment, and economy to suit a driver’s budget. Let’s see when they will be available.

The principle of hydrogen cars seems complicated, but it’s not difficult to understand. The energy is obtained by mixing liquid hydrogen with oxygen in the air and turning it into electrical energy to power a motor. Electric cars, on the other hand, use electricity from the battery. The waste hydrogen cars emit is only “water”, derived from a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen (H2O), which creates zero pollution, unlike combustion engine vehicles which produce harmful carbon dioxide (CO2).

In 2011, Toyota launched Mirai (meaning “future” in Japanese), a fuel-cell vehicle (FCV) concept car, which they promoted as a superior energy choice of the future. It was later released in 2015 and could run up to 500 kilometers before refueling which made it comparable to EVs available at that time. Mirai Gen 2 was released at the end of last year, with 12% increased power and mileage of almost 800 kilometers.

Toyota also revealed its Corolla Cross Hydrogen Concept (HICEV) Hydrogen-powered prototype car at the 2023 Bangkok International Motor Show that uses high-pressure hydrogen injectors instead of a conventional combustion engine. An interesting feature is the hydrogen refueling which is five minutes more or less than gasoline refueling.

Such a good concept, but how about performance?

To confirm that hydrogen cars can run as well as conventional cars and electric cars, Toyota used hydrogen combustion technology at the Super Taikyuin Japan Racing Circuit, and many other tracks, as well as in real traffic in Belgium, and in the Super Endurance series at Chang International Circuit, Buriram, Thailand.

Toyota also said that by putting the technology to the test, engineers were able to improve the engine’s power by 24% and torque by 33%, comparable to conventional combustion engines, while also increasing mileage by about 30% and reduced refueling time from about five minutes to only one and a half minutes!

The Toyota Corolla Cross Hydrogen Concept (HICEV) is no different from a gasoline combustion vehicle; the engine works normally, smoothly, with the exciting sound of a roaring engine, while electric cars don’t possess these properties. In terms of acceleration, the HICEV can do 0 – 100 km/h in 9 seconds. The timing of changing speed is also very responsive with no difference from that of a gasoline combustion vehicle.

Up until now, I believe you might be interested in having a test drive, right? But why does the Mirai remain in a humdrum state since its release eight years ago? Let’s take a closer look in the next issue.