Thatcham Research is working closely with Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd (TMUK) and a consortium of specialist industry partners to develop a hydrogen version of Toyota’s iconic Hilux pick-up.
To prepare the Hilux for the UK market, Thatcham Research insurance risk intelligence and engineering expertise will be required to assess the repair and safety implications of any adaptations made to the standard Hilux throughout the design process. This includes making recommendations for vehicle development to ensure strong passive and active safety performance, while providing early awareness of potential repair challenges.
Thatcham Research has a key role within the consortium, bringing comprehensive research into future vehicle technology and proven expertise in creating repair training programmes via its world-class Automotive Academy. Insights gathered through the course of the project will form the foundations of future hydrogen vehicle handling and repair training for technical and non-technical automotive sector staff.
Participation in this project builds on work completed in 2021, when Thatcham Research launched its ‘EV Ready’ training programme, enabling businesses to handle Electric Vehicles safely and efficiently.
Miller Crockart, chief revenue officer, Thatcham Research comments, “We’re delighted to be collaborating with Toyota and Ricardo on this project. Whilst pure battery electric vehicles are the poster child for decarbonisation in the automotive sector, continued research and the development of alternative fuel types, such as hydrogen, also hold the potential to play a key part in achieving UK carbon neutrality goals.
“This project is a good example of how Government and the automotive sector can bring innovation and new growth opportunities to the UK motor industry. At Thatcham Research, we are supporting more and more OEMs on their complex journey along the Road to Zero, with design advice, training, and testing on insurance-critical aspects such as repair, maintenance, safety, and sustainability. A collaborative relationship between OEMs and the Insurance sector is to everyone’s benefit, and this is a great model for that working in practice.”
Increasing pressure within the industry to meet stringent emissions regulations, reduce environmental impacts and meet changing consumer demands, mean Electric Vehicle sales have grown rapidly. However, over 30  countries have now released hydrogen roadmaps and the industry has announced more than 200 hydrogen projects and ambitious investment plans.
Richard Kenworthy, Managing Director, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd said, “This is a hugely significant project for Toyota and the consortium. It is great to work alongside well-established companies such as Thatcham Research and acknowledge what they can bring to this project. Their experience and knowledge of the repair and safety aspects of the vehicle development will enable the wider automotive sector to upskill and be hydrogen ready. This will then also have a direct impact on the insurance rating of the final vehicle. We are confident that this is a winning combination of companies that can collectively contribute to the hydrogen landscape, supporting new job skills and competencies going forward.”
The highly skilled consortium aims to adopt Toyota Mirai fuel cell components, transforming a Toyota Hilux pick-up into a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The multi-year project will result in the production of initial vehicle prototypes throughout 2023 at TMUK’s Burnaston site in the UK.