Toyota reveals concept for Le Mans’ new Hydrogen class

J.A.
By J.A. Ackley
Jun 9, 2023 | Toyota, Le Mans, Toyota GR Corolla, Toyota GR H2 Concept

Photography Courtesy Toyota

Toyota has been racing a GR Corolla in Japan to experiment with hydrogen as a fuel for its internal combustion engines. Now, it’s taking it a step further, revealing its GR H2 Concept at Le Mans.

[Hydrogen as a fuel? Inside the technology Toyota is developing]

The ACO, the organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, announced that they will allow hydrogen-engine vehicles to compete–in addition to fuel cell electric vehicles–in a new Hydrogen class.

Toyota recently ran its hydrogen-engine Corolla in the Fuji 24 Hours race. The company continues to develop the technology to use the fuel, and racing provides it with the platform to test their engineering.

We are grateful to the ACO and Le Mans for providing this unique opportunity to share our efforts with the world,” said Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda. “My goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in motorsports without sacrificing anything in terms of performance or excitement. We look forward to our new GR H2 race car in view of the new Le Mans H2 class in the future. The sound, the torque, the dynamics, it’s all there. Not only are we reimagining the race car, we’re doing it with zero emissions.”

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Comments
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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
6/9/23 10:59 a.m.

Toyota is really going all in with this hydrogen stuff, huh? Don't get me wrong, it's all very cool, but I'm not totally convinced it's the future–at least not yet.

At any rate, I'm interested to see what other teams might bring to the table.

j_tso
j_tso Dork
6/9/23 11:07 a.m.

The front end treatment is similar to the GT3 Concept and the new Prius. If this is the design language Toyota is moving towards I like it.

kb58
kb58 UltraDork
6/9/23 12:06 p.m.

Manufactures are apparently hoping that no one cares about the inefficiencies of producing the fuel. As James May (Top Gear) once said, "The problem with hydrogen is that it's attached to other things." Indeed, it takes more energy to split it off than what you get out of it. Those saying "a hydrogen car's exhaust is water", are blind to everything upstream of that. Every time energy changes form it loses efficiency. The electricity used to split hydrogen could have been used to run an EV directly, bypassing the efficiency loss, but I guess it's just something new for people to get excited about, so there's that...

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE SuperDork
6/10/23 10:41 a.m.

In reply to kb58 :

And also (to put on my firefighter helmet) Toyota has already learned with the Hydrogen powered GR Concept a month or two ago, that it burns with no flame and leaks out of goddamn everything. If you work with burning hydrogen you still have to use the NASA "broom test" where you hold something flammable to look for flames.
 

j_tso
j_tso Dork
6/10/23 11:08 a.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

Found the use for Orido's cowboy driver suit

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
6/10/23 11:54 a.m.

In reply to kb58 :

Toyota is hedging their bets. The required betterment of battery systems isn't happening, yet. So instead of those for energy storage, an alternate is to use hydrogen.  Which is easy to adapt to with ice's. 
 

I can't fault them on that. 

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE SuperDork
6/10/23 12:03 p.m.
alfadriver said:

In reply to kb58 :

So instead of those for energy storage, an alternate is to use hydrogen.  Which is easy to adapt to with ice's. 

Only if they've solved the embrittlement issues. Link if interested. Seems they can't prevent it, only mitigate it with high tensile steel.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
6/10/23 12:18 p.m.

In reply to GIRTHQUAKE :

That's not an impossible problem. And it's just a different one to EVs. Again, hedging their bets. Toyota is a big company and can do both battery and h2 development at the same time. 

Driven5
Driven5 UberDork
6/10/23 12:20 p.m.

In reply to alfadriver :

I'd like to see more 'hedging' done with biofuels.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
6/10/23 12:25 p.m.

In reply to Driven5 :

That's really, really easy for ices. So much so, it doesn't need to even be displayed. Unless you are talking diesel, which just reverts to the standard diesel emissons problems. 
 

LeMans can be run on e100 next year if the ico wants. 

Driven5
Driven5 UberDork
6/10/23 1:21 p.m.

I'm talking in the larger 'all-in' sense, like Toyota is doing with Hydrogen. The racecars are just awareness ambassadors for everything else they're trying to do with it, like Woven City. They're not just investing in making cars that can run it. They're investing in the entire supply chain scaling and infrastructure to try to make it viable.

STM317
STM317 PowerDork
6/10/23 1:58 p.m.
kb58 said:

Manufactures are apparently hoping that no one cares about the inefficiencies of producing the fuel. As James May (Top Gear) once said, "The problem with hydrogen is that it's attached to other things." Indeed, it takes more energy to split it off than what you get out of it. Those saying "a hydrogen car's exhaust is water", are blind to everything upstream of that. Every time energy changes form it loses efficiency. The electricity used to split hydrogen could have been used to run an EV directly, bypassing the efficiency loss, but I guess it's just something new for people to get excited about, so there's that...

The problem with using that electricity in an EV is that the batteries drain very quickly. Batteries tend to struggle with duty cycles of hard, continuous work. It's why semi truck makers, heavy equipment companies, and racing series are all spending piles of cash on hydrogen. Most of them have done battery prototypes, and they've found that for heavy working applications they simply don't stack up.

Batteries are great for short times, or lighter work. If you need to mow a suburban yard, or zip around town in a passenger car, or make a single fast lap around a track they can be superior to ICEs. But if you need to mow all day to make money, or tow a bunch of weight for hours at a time, or run continuous fast laps for a couple of hours they don't make sense.

We've acknowledged that different duty cycles require different energy sources for a very long time now. It's why diesel is typically used over gas for heavy working applications. Green energy sources aren't significantly different in that regard. Some are better suited than others for certain applications and duty cycles. There is no one-size fits all when it comes to fuels/energy sources. Everything has trade offs.

kb58
kb58 UltraDork
6/10/23 9:01 p.m.

In reply to STM317 :

You're right, I shouldn't have compared it to an EV, and should have backed further upstream than that. I'll change what I said to:

"...The natural gas burned at the power plant to make the electricity to split hydrogen could have run the car directly, instead of changing the energy form multiple times..."

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