Toyota hydrogen car enjoys time in the spotlight with Rowan Atkinson at the wheel

Toyota hydrogen car enjoys time in the spotlight with Rowan Atkinson at the wheel

July 27, 2023 5 By Julie Campbell

The Mr. Bean star drove the Toyota GR Yaris H2 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Rowan Atkinson, best known as the actor who starred in Mr. Bean and Johnny English, appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and took the wheel of a Toyota hydrogen car to show his support for alternative fuels for cleaner transportation.

The actor is an auto enthusiast while also being a die-hard fan of internal combustion engines.

This being the case, Rowan Atkinson was the ideal person to drive the Toyota GR Yaris H2, a concept hydrogen car that runs on H2 combustion instead of using fuel cells, as is the case with the Toyota Mirai.

The concept vehicle was prepared specifically for the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Atkinson explained that it uses the typical turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine of a regular GR Yaris. However, the engine management system has been altered so that it will run on H2 instead of gasoline. Instead of using fuel cells and an electric engine, this vehicle uses H2 injected directly into the engine, remaining an internal combustion engine (ICE).

At the event, Atkinson said that driving the hydrogen car was “tremendous fun.”

Atkinson already owns a conventional GR Yaris, so the actor is familiar with the vehicle’s typical performance. He said that he found the H2-powered version to be “tremendous fun.” He also went on to applaud both Toyota and Formula One for their efforts to maintain the internal combustion engine alive while looking to cleaner alternative fuels.

The automaker is also working on a GR H2 Le Mans prototype that it intends to race as a hydrogen car in 2026. At that event, as is the case with Formula One, the intention is to switch to hybrid powertrains that will be powered by sustainable fuels, also by 2026.

Atkinson was already an early adopter of electric car tech and is familiar with zero emission vehicles.

Atkinson isn’t just enthusiastic about vehicles. He really knows his stuff. He was an early electric car technology adopter, but also holds a degree in electrical and electronic engineering. That said, more recently his opinion of electric cars has soured. In fact, last month, he submitted an article that was published by The Guardian, in which he described feeling “duped”. He also urged automakers to continue their research into alternative clean fuels, including hydrogen cars. He said that this was where he felt the future of sustainability of the internal combustion will be.

Hydrogen car - Image 2 - Rowan Atkinson drives hydrogen-powered Toyota GR Yaris H2 Concept at Goodwood - Toyota UK YouTube

While the Mr. Bean actor is not against electric cars, he has stated that the weight and expense associated with their lithium-ion batteries aren’t the “environmental panacea” that many people believe them to be. Atkinson has an extensive vehicle collection, including the aforementioned GR Yaris. He also owns or has previously owned an Acura NSX, a McLaren F1, and a Lancia Delta Integrale HF.

At the original launch of the Toyota GR Yaris, Toyota gained a hot hatch competitor of note against the Volkswagen GTI and the Subaru WRX. The GR Yaris’ stock form has a 1.6-liter engine that achieves 257 horsepower while being a resilient powerplant that can be tweaked to produce up to 741 horsepower while still keeping its original crankshaft, pistons and rods.

Toyota and Hydrogen Cars

hydrogen news ebookToyota has been working on hydrogen cars in competitive racing, with this strategy being a part of the company’s broader effort toward carbon neutrality. Instead of placing its focus exclusively on electric vehicles – the current leader in zero emission passenger vehicle technology – the automaker is developing several different powertrain solutions, including H2 ICE, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fuel cell hybrids.
science faqs and hydrogen answers
FAQ about Toyota’s Hydrogen Combustion Engine

Q: What makes Toyota’s hydrogen combustion engine special?
A: Toyota’s hydrogen combustion engine is a new innovation that uses hydrogen (H2) as its fuel source. This engine was developed from the 1.6 liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine seen in the GR Yaris and the GR Corolla. The engine has been altered to use hydrogen, which includes the addition of a heavy-duty fuel tank to contain the H2 under high pressure. The engine offers fast refueling times and requires fewer rare metals compared to electric vehicles.

Q: How does the hydrogen combustion engine work?

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A: The hydrogen combustion engine works similarly to a traditional internal combustion engine, but instead of using gasoline, it uses hydrogen as its fuel. In the engine, hydrogen is combined with oxygen from the air to create a combustion reaction. This reaction powers the engine and the only byproduct is water vapor.

Q: What are the advantages of a hydrogen combustion engine?
A: The hydrogen combustion engine offers several advantages over traditional gasoline engines and electric vehicles. It has a larger range and extremely fast refueling time – the GR Yaris H2 can be refueled in only 90 seconds. Additionally, it doesn’t require as much rare metal such as lithium or nickel, which are critical to the manufacturing of batteries.

Q: Is Toyota planning to produce vehicles with hydrogen combustion engines?
A: Yes, Toyota is currently developing a vehicle with a hydrogen combustion engine. They recently unveiled their Corolla Cross H2 concept vehicle, which uses the hydrogen combustion engine. The Corolla Cross H2 concept car is now undergoing real-world evaluation and is expected to begin winter road condition testing soon.

Q: How does the hydrogen combustion engine contribute to Toyota’s strategy for carbon neutrality?
A: The development of the hydrogen combustion engine is part of Toyota’s diversified approach to achieving carbon neutrality. While the company continues to develop electric vehicles, they believe that hydrogen combustion engines provide another viable option for reducing carbon emissions.

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