A report out of Japan indicates that Toyota is working on a sporty car that is powered by alternative fuel. More sporty cars are always a good thing, but what’s perhaps more interesting is that the report states Toyota could revive the name Celica for this model.
The report comes from Best Car magazine, which claims to have a source close to the car’s planning and development. Apparently, the fact that Toyota had trademarked the Celica name led to this source’s revelation, and that this sporty model is being jointly developed with Subaru.
It is described as an EV, and it’s well known that Toyota has already jointly developed not only the 86 and BRZ twins with Subaru, but a next generation of electric vehicles starting with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra. Toyota has committed to no less than 15 battery-electric cars, as the article points out, hinting that the Celica is one of them.
However, the source also said that the car may not be an EV, telling Best Car that “Toyota does not necessarily think that EVs are the only power unit in the future. We are thinking about how to deal with carbon neutrality from a broader perspective.” This is the exact company line we have heard from Toyota’s engineers when it comes to hydrogen powered cars.
Specifically, it was in reference to not hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like the Mirai, but hydrogen-burning internal combustion engined cars like the recent Super Taikyu Corolla race car that competed in the Fuji 24 Hours. With a few modifications to the GR Yaris engine the team was able to run the race car on hydrogen fuel.
The Corolla was deemed a more carbon neutral vehicle than even pure electrics, because in Japan some electricity comes from fossil fuel-burning plants, while all the hydrogen was synthesized via solar power. However, there’s still a long way to go before that becomes a viable alternative for a production car. Hydrogen burns a lot faster than gasoline, and the race team needed more fill-ups than a conventional ICE car would.
For more details you can my interview with Naoyuki Sakamoto, the Corolla hydrogen race car’s chief engineer. He mentioned that it would be possible to convert existing ICE engines to run on hydrogen fuel, as long as the fuel tank, fuel delivery, and injectors are changed. That might be one way to keep older cars on the road if traditional ICE engines are legislated against.
No matter what you think about hydrogen’s viability, the key takeaway here is that Toyota seems determined to explore this possibility in a performance-oriented application. As such, they might as well do it in a Celica.