JCB invests in hydrogen fuel cell car

Midlands digger maker JCB has taken delivery of a Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car – just as it develops its own hydrogen technology.

The vehicle is one of the first second-generation hydrogen-fuelled Toyota to arrive in the UK since its launch earlier this year.

It comes as JCB – which has its global headquarters in Rocester, near Uttoxeter, and a plant at Foston, Derbyshire – invests £100 million in the development of super-efficient hydrogen engines to power its equipment.

A team of 100 engineers is already working on the development with the recruitment of up to 50 more under way at the Derbyshire plant as JCB targets the end of 2022 for the first to go on sale.

Two prototype hydrogen powered machines have already been produced – a backhoe loader and a Loadall telescopic handler, which were recently displayed at COP26 in Glasgow.

It is the second hydrogen fuelled Toyota Mirai bought by JCB following the purchase of a first-generation model in 2015.

Toyota’s UK manufacturing is based a few miles from JCB in Burnaston, in Derbyshire.

The new Mirai was handed over to JCB chairman Lord Bamford by Toyota (GB) president and managing director Agustin Martin.

Lord Bamford said: “We applaud Toyota for its consistency in exploring the potential of hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels in cars.

“Indeed, just in the past few months, Mr Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, has been testing a Toyota car powered by a hydrogen combustion engine, the same technology that JCB is pioneering for its own machinery.

“Having a hydrogen fuel cell car in our fleet makes perfect sense as we pursue hydrogen as a fuel of the future.”

Mr Martin said: “Since 1992, Toyota has produced more than five million cars at its Burnaston plant and our Midlands neighbours at JCB have an even longer history of providing employment, investment and innovation in the region.

“JCB’s research and development into hydrogen engines marks a significant and forward-thinking shift in the construction and agriculture worlds.

“It’s exciting to see another industry taking the steps towards decarbonising society through the application of hydrogen technology.”

JCB has manufactured engines since 2004, producing them at plants in Derbyshire and Delhi, India.

It is on course to celebrate production of its 750,000th engine this year.

Toyota’s Mirai offers better performance and fuel efficiency, a 30 per cent greater driving range and a price tag almost 25 per cent lower than its predecessor.

The increased efficiency of Mirai’s fuel cell system, coupled with a 1kg increase in hydrogen capacity, gives the car a range of approximately 400 miles – an increase of 100 miles over the first generation model.

Fuelled by hydrogen, Mirai can be refilled in a matter of a few minutes.

It emits only pure water and, through the use of an electrostatic filter, removes almost 100 per cent of particulate matter from the air.

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