Toyota advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology with U.S. production and next-generation systems planned for 2026.
· Toyota to begin U.S. production of hydrogen fuel cell drivetrains in December.
· Next-generation hydrogen system, slashing costs and boosting range, planned for 2026.
· Toyota aims to achieve fuel cell volumes of 200,000 vehicles by 2030.
Toyota Motors Corp. has announced plans to commence production of hydrogen fuel cell drivetrains in the U.S. starting December. Before this production even begins, the company is already outlining plans for a next-generation hydrogen system to be launched in 2026, which will reduce cost while enhancing range and durability. The production line in Georgetown, Kentucky, marks Toyota’s first North American venture into the manufacture of hydrogen fuel cell systems. The Kentucky production line will produce integrated dual fuel cell modules for heavy-duty commercial trucks.
The move is part of Toyota’s strategy to stimulate the global market for fuel cell technology by supplying commercial trucks. CEO Koji Saito has established an independent business unit named the Hydrogen Factory to accelerate the development of hydrogen-powered, emission-free technologies, aligning with the company’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
Mitsumasa Yamagata, President of the Hydrogen Factory, revealed that tapping into the trucking industry would enable Toyota to reach fuel cell volumes of up to 200,000 commercial and passenger vehicles by 2030. Toyota has confirmed that it has business offers to support a volume of 100,000 fuel cell systems by 2030, with heavy-duty trucks accounting for approximately 35% of the total.
Toyota’s Chief Technology Officer, Hiroki Nakajima, stated that the company needs to achieve production volumes of at least 10,000 units per month for hydrogen fuel cell production to break even. He emphasized the need for cost reduction before volume can be increased, particularly given the expensive nature of the technology, which relies on precious metals, precision manufacturing, and costly carbon fiber-wrapped tanks.
The company has also laid out plans for a next-generation fuel cell system, set to debut in 2026. This system will cut the fuel stack cost by half, increase cruising range by up to 20%, and double durability compared to diesel engines. This system will be scalable, fitting all vehicle types from heavy-duty trucks to passenger cars.
Despite some setbacks in meeting earlier sales targets for fuel cell vehicles, Toyota remains committed to hydrogen fuel cell technology. Its next hydrogen vehicle, a fuel-cell equipped version of the Crown sedan, will be launched in Japan this fall, though there are no current plans for a U.S. introduction.