Toyota Corolla Hydrogen-Powered Race Car Catches Fire During Testing
Toyota’s hydrogen-powered GR Corolla caught fire while testing at Fuji International Speedway last week, putting the vehicle out of action for the foreseeable future.
According to Toyota, a fire developed in the engine bay of the Corolla during a private test held after the one at Fuji. Toyota claims that a pipe was rattled loose due to vibrations and began leaking hydrogen, which ultimately ignited due to the heat of the engine. The automaker claims the incident is not directly related to the switch from a gaseous hydrogen system to liquid, reinforcing that it was merely a mechanical failure.
Fortunately, Toyota claims that a “hydrogen leak sensor fail-safe functioned effectively,” allowing the driver to escape unharmed. The sensor’s role is to detect and instantly turn off the supply of hydrogen to the engine, and it was successful in preventing the fire from spreading from the engine bay to the cabin or other areas of the vehicle.
Despite all this, it’s a good lesson for consumers that with any new technology, there are going to be setbacks and unforeseen issues. Hydrogen, like gasoline, is a highly flammable substance. This isn’t to say that it’s unsafe, but more that it will need time to progress through all the safety and engineering stages before it is fully rolled out to the public.
This is the entire reason Toyota took the car racing in the first place. The car, in the past two seasons of racing, has already improved substantially, increasing output by 24% and cruising by 30% since it first hit the track in 2021. Putting it through these extreme conditions has pushed the technology further, faster than expected.