Along with a demonstration of the refuelling of the hydrogen Mirai, Toyota also became the first local automaker to complete an on-road demonstration of the technology during the Smart Mobility Africa Summit at the Gallagher Convention Centre.
Aligning with a global imperative for improved air quality and a reduction of reliance on fossil fuels, a national commitment at the Smart Mobility Africa Summit on Monday morning was also made by key members of local government. Part of Toyota’s multi-pathway approach, hydrogen forms a key aspect of future NEVs the Japanese automaker plans on introducing to the market which boasts reduced-or-zero CO2 emissions. With two hydrogen Mirai models currently in the country, Toyota South Africa Motors decided to use the event to demonstrate the ease and efficiency of the hydrogen ecosystem
“Toyota has been actively involved in the research and development of vehicles using hydrogen as a source of motive power for more than 30 years, going back to 1992,” explained Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of Toyota SA Motors.
Kirby further added that the automaker has sold more than 25 000 fuel cell electric vehicles with the first generation model boasting almost half of those sales numbers. With this illustrious history throughout its 31-year history tinkering with the technology, it is fitting that the second-generation flagship sedan would demonstrate the procedure of refuelling and take the first local journey powered by hydrogen which is the most abundant element in the universe, and ‘has the potential to be a game-changer in the quest for sustainable transportation.’ – Fleetwood Grobler, President and CEO of Sasol.
This first on-road demonstration of a hydrogen mobility ecosystem with the Toyota flagship sedan was made possible with hydrogen produced by Sasol and dispensing technology provided by Air Products. The partnership between the three technology leaders was formed in 2021 to promote the use of hydrogen as a fuel of the future. As part of the momentous demonstration, Andrew Kirby took several VIPs for a silent but emission-free drive in the luxurious hydrogen Mirai with key figures including Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi and Gauteng MEC for Transport Kedibone Diale Tlabela.
At the moment, the two hydrogen Mirai models have been homologated for driving on local roads but Kirby mentions that there is no short-term intention to offer the flagship sedan in the South African market.
“Ideally, we need businesses and fleets to commit up front to buy hydrogen FCEVs and substantial quantities of hydrogen to make the necessary infrastructure viable. Pricing of green hydrogen varies at this stage, but what we do know is that pricing is very dependent on economies of scale. This is going to be an exciting but demanding journey and TSAM is pleased to be part of it,” concluded Kirby.
With South Africa’s unique energy grid and pending need to improve emissions and air quality, hydrogen propulsion may be the long term solution.