Hydrogen and Hybrids: Toyota CEO Defends Combustion Engines, Saying ‘The Enemy Is Carbon’

This weekend Toyota's president drove a specially-equipped Corolla powered by an in-house hydrogen engine, reports Bloomberg. "Along with Mazda Motor Corp., Toyota showcased vehicles running on carbon-neutral propellants in a three-hour road race this weekend in Okayama." Toyota's hydrogen-powered car underscores the automaker's belief that a wide variety of vehicle types — including hybrids and hydrogen-powered cars, in addition to electric vehicles — will play a role in decarbonizing its fleet over the coming decades. That puts the company in contrast to others, such as General Motors Co., Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo Car AB, which say they'll sell only EVs two decades from now. "The enemy is carbon, not internal combustion engines," Toyoda said at a briefing Saturday. "We need diverse solutions, that's the path toward challenging carbon neutrality." Toyota says that that different emissions-reducing car technologies are needed for different regions of the world. EVs are a good option for places like Europe, where batteries can be charged with electricity derived largely from renewable sources, the automaker says. Other options, such as hydrogen or hybrids, may be a better fit in other regions. The technology is separate from the company's other big bet on hydrogen — hydrogen fuel cells such as those that power the Mirai passenger car. While fuel cells use the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, which in turn runs a motor, the hydrogen engine burns the element just like gasoline. Traditional engines only need to be tweaked in minor ways, such as changing out the fuel supply and injection systems, to make them capable of running on hydrogen, Toyota Chief Engineer Naoyuki Sakamoto said in a briefing last month. That also makes the technology a way to save some of the hundreds of thousands of jobs making parts related to combustion engines that are predicted to disappear in Japan if the automotive sector makes a full shift to EVs, according to Toyoda.

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