The Motegi Super Taikyu 5 Hours Race, Round 5 of the 2023 ENEOS Super Taikyu Series Supported by Bridgestone, was held in Tochigi Prefecture in September.
Motegi was also the venue for the unveiling of a hydrogen road service vehicle jointly developed by Toyota and the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF). Following on from Super Taikyu Autopolis (Hita, Oita), this was the second straight race to showcase a new type of fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV)—a sign of the determination and dedication of Japanese manufacturers.
The vehicle carries modules that integrate multiple resin hydrogen tanks, used in the Mirai with a high degree of safety, with various safety devices to monitor operating conditions automatically.
With their large capacity, these modules make storing and transporting hydrogen safer and more efficient. As such, they were developed with the aim of boosting hydrogen energy use in seaports, mountainous regions, and other areas where refueling is difficult.
The vehicles crucial for creating a hydrogen society
Following the FCEV garbage truck unveiled at Autopolis in July, the Mobility Resort Motegi event space provided a first look at the JAF hydrogen road service vehicle.
A key part of creating a hydrogen society, this vehicle was designed to assist hydrogen-powered cars if they run out of fuel on the road.
As part of its roadside services, JAF annually assists some 50,000 vehicles stranded without fuel, including 700 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) that have run out of charge and around 20 cars needing a hydrogen top-up.
The newly premiered road service vehicle was jointly developed to ensure that, in a hydrogen society with more FCEVs on the road, running out of hydrogen could be handled like other fuels rather than requiring cars to be towed.
At present, if a driver runs out of hydrogen on the road without a refueling station nearby, their only option is to call a tow truck.
In such situations, the JAF vehicle can be sent out to supply hydrogen. Although part of road services, such vehicles could also deliver hydrogen for home generators and stationary power generation units in the future.
With JAF’s extensive cooperation, Toyota outfitted the vehicle with all the functions necessary to provide roadside assistance, not just hydrogen refueling. In addition to supplying hydrogen, this vehicle brings together everything needed to handle the five main problems on the road, from flat tires and dead batteries to running out of fuel.
As energy options continue to increase, JAF is developing vehicles that can supply various fuels, including electricity and gasoline, when they run out.
The hydrogen road service vehicle and Super Taikyu
Chief Engineer Hirofumi Ota of the CV Company, which handles Toyota’s commercial vehicles, explained the reasons for revealing the road service vehicle at this Super Taikyu event.
“To be frank, this is still an experimental vehicle. We will continue to develop it fully, figuring out what technology is needed and how it should be used by JAF and others.
“There are two reasons for doing this at Super Taikyu. At the front of the cargo bed sit four light Mirai hydrogen tanks, part of our efforts in transporting hydrogen. The top box is fitted with a safety control mechanism, which is just about ready for commercial release. This box has a dry-cell-like structure that facilitates hydrogen delivery.
“We loaded these onto the truck and, working with JAF, built a configuration that allows the hydrogen to be easily transported in packs (as modules).
“In terms of using hydrogen, we saw Super Taikyu as an opportunity to address potential concerns and create an environment that facilitates energy use by simplifying transportation.