Toyota Corolla Cross Hydrogen showcased at the Bangkok International Motor Show 2023

  • Corolla Cross goes tailpipe emission-free, but with hydrogen instead of electricity
  • Has hydrogen combustion engine, not fuel cell system and an electric motor like the Mirai
  • Sports a modified version of the GR Corolla's engine
  • Toyota determined to bring the new hydrogen technology to the masses

Toyota, like BMW, strongly believes hydrogen will meaningfully complement battery electric vehicles in the world’s roadmap to 100% clean mobility. The company already offers a hydrogen fuel cell EV – the Toyota Mirai – and is working on another such model – the Hilux Hydrogen. Additionally, it’s developing hydrogen combustion engine vehicles in parallel, seeing them comparatively as more practical clean vehicles.

What is it?

The Toyota Corolla Hydrogen (ORC Rookie GR Corolla H2 Concept) arrived in April 2021, and then the Toyota Yaris Hydrogen (Toyota GR Yaris Hydrogen) followed in December 2021. A year later, the Toyota Corolla Cross Hydrogen broke cover, making the hydrogen combustion engine development way more exciting, given its globally popular crossover SUV body style. Officially called ‘Toyota Corolla Corolla Cross H2 Concept,’ the hydrogen-powered compact SUV is currently on display at the Bangkok International Motor Show 2023 in Thailand.

The Toyota Corolla Cross Hydrogen uses a modified version of the GR Corolla’s 1.6-liter turbocharged direct injection three-cylinder engine, running on compressed hydrogen stored in tanks installed under the floor. understands that the tanks come from Toyoda Gosei, a division of Toyota Group just like Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). Since 2020, Toyota Gosei has been making hydrogen tanks for the second-generation Mirai. With TMC stating that the Corolla Cross Hydrogen’s hydrogen tank packaging know-how comes from Mirai, it was obvious.

Similar to the batteries of a BEV, the tanks of a hydrogen combustion engine vehicle, at least in this case, have a 15-year life period. Still, replacing hydrogen tanks might not be as expensive, and at least not as unsustainable as replacing critical mineral-heavy batteries. Plus, hydrogen combustion engine vehicles could be closer to a typical gas-powered vehicle in terms of longevity.

The Toyota Corolla Cross Hydrogen’s power generation process involves the combustion of hydrogen using fuel supply and injection systems adapted from those of gasoline engines. Combustion in a hydrogen engine happens much faster relatively compared to in a gasoline engine. Hydrogen engines emit engine oil, too, but only in minute amounts. In contrast, the Toyota Mirai uses an electric motor powered by energy generated through a hydrogen-oxygen chemical reaction.

When is it coming to dealerships?

It is clear from the Toyota Corolla Cross Hydrogen that the company intends to bring hydrogen power to affordable, high-volume models in the future. TMC says it is around 40% close to commercialization of models like this concept. As of yet, the Corolla Cross Hydrogen or any other hydrogen combustion engine vehicle has no launch date, as the infrastructure needed to support fuel cell vehicles hasn’t taken off globally. For now, hybrid is all that Toyota will do to make the Corolla Cross greener.

Toyota Corolla Cross Hydrogen rear
There’s a clear production intent for the Corolla Cross Hydrogen from Toyota, should the novel powertrain technology check all main boxes for commercial feasibility.

We are probably about 40% along the path to commercialization … and I don’t know if we’ll reach all the way to 100% … but clearly, it’s too early to stop trying; and definitely, there’s a big opportunity in motorsports. If we do get there, then – like the Corolla Cross – maybe there’s also a hydrogen combustion solution that can contribute to meeting the future ZEV mandates.

Matt Harrison, President & CEO of Toyota Motor Europe (Kenshiki Forum 2022)