Hydrogen-Powered Engines Head to the Next Stage: Super Taikyu Series Final Round at Suzuka


With the Super Taikyu Series, we are taking on the challenge of achieving carbon neutrality. This report summarizes the evolution of the hydrogen engine and the deepening of partnerships and teamwork during the second season of racing.

Current location of the hydrogen engine on its road to production

At the 24-hour race held at Fuji International Speedway in June, and using the example of climbing Mt. Fuji, the hydrogen engine was described as being at “station 4” on its way to commercial production. Six months have passed since then, so how much progress has been made?

Tomoya Takahashi, GR Vehicle Development Division’s General Manager, expressed the following.


During the 24-hour race, we talked about being around the fourth station. However, since then, development has continued, and there is no doubt that we are now going from the fourth to the fifth station.

Teru Ogawa, Deputy General Manager of the GR Powertrain Development Div., continues.


Aiming for mass production, emission development at the fourth station has started in parallel with development for the race. A new dedicated team has been established to accelerate development.

The fifth station’s functionality and reliability measures are issues we found to be caused by the high-rpm, high-load environment used at Super Taikyu races. These issues are also being worked on via mass production development by the new team in parallel with the race.

At the sixth station, we have tank downsizing. This is an effort to increase the driving range with liquid hydrogen.

The hydrogen-powered Corolla under development

I think liquid hydrogen will be an even more difficult road to travel, so I would like to start by releasing a car that uses gaseous hydrogen.

We have started moving toward the fourth, fifth, and sixth stations in our climb up the mountain. Although it is now possible to safely run the engine in the next step after working on the first station’s problems, such as abnormal combustion, we have yet to reach the stage where we have fully mastered the underlying mechanics.

We would like to improve the road conditions so that our partners in the hydrogen-use area can climb the mountain with peace of mind.

In the 2023 season, we would like to continue to forge a path ahead while paving the road from station one to four, which is the section represented by log stairs in the previous illustration, to make that section passable for vehicles.

The team explained that the road to commercialization is just like climbing Mt. Fuji in that the closer you get to the summit, the steeper and harder the climb becomes.

A growing group of like-minded partners working to accelerate the move toward a hydrogen society

Through the Super Taikyu Series in 2022, the number of partners producing, transporting, and using hydrogen has increased.

First, let’s look at some partners who are producing hydrogen. In addition to those who participated until last year such as Iwatani Corporation, Taiyo Nippon Sanso, Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture (FH2R), Toyota Motor Kyushu, Obayashi Corporation, HySTRA, in which Iwatani Corporation, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, and Electric Power Development Company all participate, and Fukuoka City, newly joining members this season are Yamanashi Prefecture, Yamanashi Hydrogen Company, and Kitakyushu City.

Kitakyushu City is implementing a project to more effectively use multiple local renewable energy facilities such as solar power generation, wind power generation, and waste power generation (biomass) within the city. The photos above are of Kyushu University’s multi-lens wind turbine (top left), Kitakyushu TEK&FP LLC tracking solar power generation system (top right), IHI water electrolysis system (bottom left), and the Kitakyushu City Shinmoji plant that generates electricity from waste (bottom right).

Partners involved with transportation include Toyota Transportation’s biofuel trucks and Commercial Japan Partnership Technologies’ (CJPT) FC light-duty trucks, which are taking on the challenge of carbon-neutral fuel transportation.

In particular, the latter’s FC light-duty trucks have increased transportation efficiency by a factor of 5.5 and can transport a large amount of hydrogen at one time. Transport will be further refined through racing and accelerate the achievement of a hydrogen society.

The group of partners involved in use comprises the four major motorcycle manufacturers of Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Honda, joined by Denso and Toyota, all of whom are conducting joint research on hydrogen engines with a view toward installing them in motorcycles.

In September, Kawasaki unveiled a buggy equipped with a hydrogen engine for motorcycles.

Demonstration of Kawasaki’s buggy powered by a hydrogen combustion engine designed for motorcycles. Morizo, who was watching the announcement from nearby, was suddenly invited to take a turn in the driver’s seat. (Photo: Noriaki Mitsuhashi, N-RAK PHOTO AGENCY)

Efforts aimed at carbon neutrality are expanding beyond just producing, transporting, and using hydrogen.

Efforts to reduce CO2 generated in the production of parts for the hydrogen-powered Corolla have started, with Kobe Steel and Tokyo Steel joining the circle of like-minded partners.

Starting from the second race, the 24-hour race at Fuji Speedway, the team has used the low-CO2 blast furnace for steel materials developed and commercialized by Kobe Steel to manufacture the suspension member.

The suspension member made by Kobe Steel’s Kobenable Premier, which uses a mass balance method to reduce CO2 emissions in the manufacturing process by 100%. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, it maintains high quality that can stand up to the harsh environment of motorsports.

Furthermore, the team used a lower suspension arm made by Tokyo Steel from scrap iron for the sixth race, held at the Okayama International Circuit in Mimasaka City, Okayama Prefecture.

The lower arm for the suspension supplied by Tokyo Steel. This is recycled steel made from 100% scrap iron, a valuable resource in Japan. Compared to conventional steel derived from natural resources, CO2 emissions are reduced by about one-fifth per ton of product. Through such efforts, the aim is to achieve domestic resource recycling and a low-carbon, recycling-orientated society.