Toyota is reportedly working on a new Celica powered by hydrogen or electrons

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.

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8 Responses to Toyota is reportedly working on a new Celica powered by hydrogen or electrons

  1. speedie says:

    Hydrogen is the rotary of Toyota, they just don’t seem to be able to let the idea go. While Mazda was able to eventually make the rotary work, it almost brought the company down. Hydrogen looks great on paper and performs well enough in use, but the engineers just don’t seem to be able to solve all of the problems associated with making it a practical alternative to electricity. Realistically which is more efficient, using solar power to produce hydrogen or just sending the same electrons to the car for power? I think an electric Celica would be an obvious choice.

    • Hachibrokeyou says:

      EV’s biggest weaknesses are storage and charging. Current battery cells are heavy for their capacity and charging is generally slow (several hours). The question now is: can Hydrogen excel enough in these aspects to compete? Both systems need more development before they’re ready for mass adoption, but I wouldn’t count hydrogen out yet. Toyota has a lot of money and influence in the industry.

      • speedie says:

        True, but Toyota has no influence on infrastructure. My state of Massachusetts has 1,738 electric charging stations (360 are DC Fast). There are zero public hydrogen filling stations and only 2 private stations. To put an even bigger hammer to nail, Honda just announced yesterday that it is stopping production of the Clarity due to low sales. This reminds me of the VHS versus Betamax debate back in the late 70s and early 80s. While a case could be made that one was better than the other in the end it was the one that got bought the most by the public that won out.

  2. BlitzPig says:

    I still want to know just where, exactly, all the electricity to power a totally electric vehicle fleet is going to come from? Solar and wind will not be able to generate enough for everyone to have an electric car, and the enviro-nutters will never go with the obvious solution, nuclear generation. Given that I see a future where only the very wealthy have cars, no matter the power source, and the rest of us will be stuck with a crumbling, non-existent mass transit system here in the US.

    This is the difficult question of an electric future that no one is willing to talk about.

    • Lupus says:

      I wondering about the same. In my country – Poland – almost 80% of electric energy comes from burning coal (mostly brown) and earth gas. We have the biggest brown coal fed power plant in Europe here, the Bełchatów Heat & Power Plant witch is also the biggest air polluter on the whole continent. Last month the was a breakdown there that caused almost 1/4 of the country (38 million people overall) the be cut off from power for several hours. The electical grid in my country is already runnig at it’s performance limit. And fully electric cars loaded from the socket are just 0,4% off all registred cars here (from ~30 million cars EV’s are ~120 000). So, yeah, where do we take the elctricity from? We don’t have a nuclear power plant, and since a lot of pepole still remember the Chernobyl disaster from ’86 that happend in Ukraine the feeling towards this power source are very cold.

    • Crown says:

      That’s what happens when the infrastructure is neglected in favor of tax breaks.

  3. RX626 says:

    This is good news, but please note that the source is Best Car.
    They are a very notorious gossip magazine in Japan, and their new car scoops (especially sports cars) are not reliable at all.

    They have been posting the “scoop” on the return of legendary sports cars like the Silvia, Cappuccino and RX-7 for a long time now.
    Have those scoops come true? …Ha, ha.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      They’ve also been right about several things, including some details of the Supra and Z, but you’re correct. Take this with a massive grain of salt.

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