A few weeks ago, Toyota UK unveiled their hydrogen-powered Hilux, but its humble origins actually originate in South Africa. Our digital editor Alex Shahini had an interview with Toyota SA Motors CEO Andrew Kirby to find out more details on the zero-emissions bakkie.
After spending the day at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg for the Smarter Mobility Africa Summit, Toyota South Africa Motors President and CEO Andrew Kirby divulged the hydrogen Hilux model actually started life out in South Africa. With 10 prototypes produced for development, the models were first assembled in Toyota’s Prospecton Plant before being shipped off to begin their rigorous testing phase.
“South Africa exports to the UK anyway so we supported them with the base vehicle which we did some small customisations to and sent some people across to help with the conversation. They did all the conversion and engineering of the project and once it has been through the phase of getting to production we can consider importing.” – Andrew Kirby.
The Toyota head honcho further added that its potential arrival is all market dependent for South Africa. If major players like Sasol and Air Products continue with development and further grow the hydrogen ecosystem there is a strong possibility that the NEV bakkie could venture onto local roads. Kirby further added that the several Hydrogen Hilux models in existence have been put through rigorous testing, crash-testing, and customer drives and that Toyota wouldn’t go through this effort if they weren’t serious about the project.
“The question is how long will it take us to commercially make it available and will there be infrastructure available for the customer.” – Andrew Kirby.
There are obvious cost benefits to using hydrogen and for the end user, one of these is its significantly more inexpensive operating and maintenance costs. Kirby further mentioned: “One kg of hydrogen is equivalent to 7,5 kg of fuel in terms of energy, if we can get the price of hydrogen below $2 per kg then we are talking about R39 or R40 kg for hydrogen and you can go 100 km.”
At the current cost of fuel in South Africa, a diesel-powered double cab Hilux with an average claimed fuel consumption of 7,3 L/100 km would cost upwards of R180 to travel the same distance. This would be a significant cost reduction for fleet owners running light to heavy commercial vehicles.