Could hydrogen race cars drive innovation?

How are Toyota and Shell harnessing the innovation gleaned from hydrogen motorsport? By Elle Farrell-Kingsley

In September 2022, Vittoria Ferraris, Senior Director, Sector Lead Automotive EMEA at market research firm S&P, told Automotive World, “Full power hydrogen-fuelled nameplates, with the exception of the Toyota Mirai, are not targeted for mass production. Rather, they are developed by OEMs to test both technology and the market.” This indicates an alternative trajectory for hydrogen.

Toyota, which until December 2021 had resisted the industry trend to introduce electric vehicles (EVs), has been developing hydrogen-engine cars since 2014. In Japan’s only full-day race, the Fuji 24 Hours, Japan’s biggest automaker entered a specially prepared hydrogen-engine powered Corolla Sport race car on 30 May 2022.

The reason? Toyota wants to use motorsport to promote hydrogen as a viable alternative to electric cars. Although Toyota launched its hydrogen fuel-cell-powered Mirai sedan in 2022 for the consumer market, this is the first time the company has entered a hydrogen race—with the hopes of harnessing hydrogen racing technology.

Motorsports innovation

This concept of utilising hydrogen racing technology is also being undertaken by Shell, which shares a similar vision. “We have long-standing experience within motorsports, such as Formula One and Formula E,” says Marina von Lenning, Head of Partnerships at Shell. To take our hydrogen expertise to the next level, we think there is a lot to learn from motorsport; there’s a lot of innovation, which is why we’re working with Forze on hydrogen technology.” Forze, derived from Formula Zero (emissions), is a team of 30 part-time and 30 full-time working students based in Delft at the Technical University, who have been developing hydrogen-electric fuel cell-powered racing cars. It was this student-led team that built the world’s first hydrogen-electric race car in 2007.

It’s time to log in (or subscribe).

Not a member? Subscribe now and let us help you understand the future of mobility.

Monthly Online Magazine
£195
1 user
12-month subscription (Annual rebill)
Access to Automotive World Magazine, our must-read monthly online publication
Mag + Articles + Special Reports
£495
1 user
12-month subscription (Annual rebill)
Access to Automotive World Magazine plus all articles and more than 40 special reports per year
All Content
Single-User License
£1,950
1 user
12-month subscription (Annual rebill)
Free tickets to Automotive World events
Unlimited online access to all content, including Automotive World magazine, articles, special reports, data and research
All Content
Team License
£3,950
Up to 5 users
12-month subscription (Annual rebill)
Free tickets to Automotive World events
Unlimited online access to all content, including Automotive World magazine, articles, special reports, data and research
All Content
Company-Wide License

Contact us for pricing

Unlimited users
12-month subscription
Free tickets to Automotive World events
Unlimited online access to all content, including Automotive World magazine, articles, special reports, data and research

Welcome back , to continue browsing the site, please click here