Toyota shows how hydrogen technology could save the exhaust note
Hearing the exhaust is part of the sports car driving experience, and the silence is something many manufacturers struggle with when adding electric vehicles to their range. Toyota has proven zero emissions doesn't necessarily mean silent by building a hydrogen-powered Corolla racing car that sounds like a real hot hatch.
The 34-second clip was posted on YouTube by the enthusiastic Toyota Times website and filmed on a racetrack in Japan. It shows the rear end of the experimental racing car announced in April 2021 and zooms in on a strange looking exhaust tip with a reticulated insert. As the Corolla accelerates, nothing on its exhaust notes suggests that it is a zero-emission car. It's still being refined, but road testers say it already drives like a gasoline-powered model.
"It's not that different [from a gasoline-powered vehicle] than I expected. It feels like a normal engine. [If I wasn't told otherwise] I would probably think this is a normal engine," said Toyota test driver Hiroaki Ishiura after a few laps.
Not all hydrogen-powered cars sound this good. Most are almost completely silent, including Toyota's own Mirai. The few hydrogen models currently in production are equipped with a fuel cell that generates electricity and thus sets an electric motor in motion. On the other hand, the Corolla tested is equipped with a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that burns hydrogen instead of gasoline. It has cylinders, pistons and valves.
Toyota will continue to improve and optimize its experimental Corolla and will drive 24 hours at Fuji Speedway in the third round of the Japanese Super Taikyu racing series. The event will take place May 21-23. It's too early to say if - let alone when - this technology will reach mass production, but Toyota has made it clear that going all-in for electric vehicles is not the way to go.
"We want to try to demonstrate that [combustion] engines can be useful to achieve CO2 neutrality, and we want to make them a platform that mechanics and private workshops who support motorsport can use in the future", so company boss Akio Toyoda told the Toyota Times. He added that there is a tremendous amount of engine tuning knowledge in Japan and abroad and he hopes it will be useful in racing for a long time to come.
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