Speed ​​up! Toyota’s hydrogen energy strategy in China

Energy crises have become a common theme in science fiction or movies about the future. The earth in “Interstellar” is full of yellow sand; in “Avatar”, mining has dug out aliens; the end-of-the-world world often begins by destroying the environment; going to the stars is often because the earth is devastated…  

Behind the text hides the anxiety of reality, the energy crisis and the environmental crisis are not only in the story. But the reason why human civilization is splendid and charming is precisely because of the tenacious challenge to the predicament and the eternal curiosity about the future.

Can wind energy be used to generate electricity? Can light be used for life? Until these renewable natural resources are put to real use, we may laugh at the whims of this question as we see it. But in just a few years, the wind has driven electricity, and light has entered life through semiconductor materials. And the fairy tale that water becomes energy and energy is discharged into water has also begun to be written – this is the research and development and application of hydrogen energy.

Among them, Toyota’s exploration on the road of hydrogen energy can be called a pioneer sample, which has far-reaching significance for the future of new energy vehicles.


One-step strategic decisions

Part One

When we look at the history of the world’s automobiles, we will find that Toyota is often independent in its strategic decision-making, but it has been proved the correctness of its decision a few years later.

In 1955, Toyota launched the first-generation Crown; in 1966, the affordable Corolla opened the curtain of global popularity. These models allowed Toyota to quickly gain market popularity with its “economical” features.

When the oil crisis broke out in the 1970s, many car companies were hit hard, but Toyota quickly went out of the country and the world with its fuel-saving advantages. In 1977, the Toyota Corolla broke the Beetle’s sales record and became the new world best-selling car champion. At this time, only 11 years have passed since the birth of Corolla.

In this process, fuel economy has become Toyota’s label, and awareness of energy saving and environmental protection has also sprung up. In order to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, Toyota embarked on the road of research and development of hybrid technology.

In 1997, Toyota launched the world’s first gasoline-electric hybrid electric vehicle, the Prius, which ushered in the hybrid era belonging to Toyota. Today, Toyota’s global sales of hybrid products have exceeded 20 million.

Time flies, the new energy era is gradually coming, and energy innovation is taking place. Although the hybrid technology is still not outdated, Toyota, driven by a keen sense of the future, has begun to find a better energy-saving and environmentally friendly technology route, and thus anchored hydrogen energy.

Due to the cost of scale, whether hydrogen energy can be successfully applied at the commercial level, how to reduce the cost of hydrogen energy, and who is the correct technical route for hydrogen energy and electric energy… These questions often lead to heated discussions.

Indeed, compared with the more mature lithium battery technology and hybrid technology, pouring a lot of money and energy into hydrogen energy is somewhat “thankful”. However, compared with lithium batteries, hydrogen fuel cells have the huge advantages of being cleaner and extremely fast in hydrogenation. The current problems of range anxiety and charging time in pure electric vehicles have been improved with hydrogen fuel cells.

Therefore, despite the difficulties ahead, Toyota still chose to persevere. The Chinese market, which has an extremely open and tolerant attitude towards new energy vehicles, has become a precious soil for Toyota to “seek” hydrogen energy.


Entering the Chinese market, both commercial and civilian use

Part Two

If it is said that the new energy vehicle market has the most potential and the new energy vehicle market is the most inclusive…it must be China.

As the world’s largest automobile production and sales country, China strongly supports the future development of new energy vehicles, and has also introduced relevant policies for the implementation of the hydrogen energy industry. Following the large-scale application of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympic Games, on March 23 this year, China’s National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration jointly issued the “Medium and Long-Term Plan for the Development of Hydrogen Energy Industry (2021-2035)” )”, the hydrogen energy industry has become a strategic emerging industry and the key development direction of the future industry.

Therefore, when we look at Toyota from the Chinese market, we can also perceive Toyota’s rapid progress in just a few years.

Since 2019, Toyota has fully launched the promotion and popularization of hydrogen fuel cell technology and products in China. Starting from the fields of “production, learning and research”, it has continued to expand the circle of friends that jointly promote the development of the hydrogen energy industry; Localized research and development of battery technology, production of products that meet the needs of Chinese customers; and continuous expansion of different usage scenarios of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in China, simultaneous commercial and passenger use.

In 2020, Toyota will sign related cooperation with Yihuatong, Reshaping Technology, FAW, GAC, Foton, Snowman, Higer Bus, Dongfeng, BAIC, etc., laying the foundation for the development of hydrogen energy in China.

Today, in the field of commercial vehicles, Toyota hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been recognized by the outside world. During the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics, Toyota provided 140 second-generation MIRAI vehicles as VIP cars. The Costa hydrogen engine (including 2 welfare vehicles) developed by the conference.

In the field of passenger cars, Toyota has also taken the lead in entering the “hydrogen track”. On September 26, GAC Toyota announced the official introduction and sale of the second-generation Toyota MIRAI hydrogen fuel electric vehicle, the first batch of which is limited to 50 vehicles, and will be the first to be launched in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Foshan.

Recently, the groundbreaking ceremony of the Toyota Fuel Cell R&D and Production Project (Phase I) was officially held. Dong Changzheng, chairman of FCTS and FCRD, jointly established by Toyota Motor Corporation and its Chinese partners, said at the ceremony: “Toyota has always believed that only by popularizing environmental protection technologies can they truly contribute to the environment; therefore, in order to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality, Toyota is committed to For the application and popularization of all-round environmental protection technologies including hydrogen fuel cell technology, pure electric power, and hybrid power.”

Toyota is accelerating the all-round electrification layout consisting of HEV, PHEV, FCEV and BEV to provide users with more diverse power options and a richer driving experience. In China, in order to achieve the dual-carbon goal, Toyota actively promotes the construction of China’s hydrogen energy society and contributes to the realization of China’s carbon neutrality goal.

write at the end

Although the dawn has dawned, Toyota has suffered countless “cynicism” on the road of hydrogen energy.

In 2021, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has bombarded the hydrogen energy industry one after another and said: “Hydrogen energy has proven not to be a solution to achieving climate neutrality, electrification has taken hold, and false debates have It’s pointless, please believe in science.”

Tesla CEO Musk also said that hydrogen energy is an IQ tax, and it is not wise to use it in cars.

But whether its opposition is from a commercial or technical perspective is an unknown issue to the outside world. And in the technical field, words are meaningless, only the product itself can explain “who is right”.

Therefore, we will find that Toyota has not explained too much. In this entrepreneurial story about new energy, Toyota has shown the tenacity of “do not bully the poor” and the quality of “technology first”.

Now, the teenager has the hope of “rising”. Judging from the timeline of Toyota’s development in the field of hydrogen energy, today’s Toyota has entered the early stage of technology harvesting, and commercial passenger use is accelerating. However, limited by the cost of hydrogen refueling stations and the cost of hydrogen fuel cells themselves, it will take some time for Toyota hydrogen energy vehicles to enter thousands of households.

Yipinjun will continue to observe what kind of tomorrow Toyota will bring.