Spectators were greeted by an unusual sight as Toyota’s hydrogen-powered FCV took to the stages of today’s Shinshiro Rally, the final round of the Japanese Rally Championship.
Two decades after Toyota last dominated world rallying with its legendary Celica Turbo, the Japanese manufacturer returned to rallying with a very different kind of vehicle – its hydrogen-fueled FCV prototype.
However, the experimental vehicle, due for production in 2015, was not competing in the 285km event.
Instead, it was performing ‘zero car’ duties – rallying’s analogue of a safety car or pace car. The ‘zero’ refers to its race number and lack of classification in the competitive running order.
Marshals in the zero car drive through the rally stages checking for safety concerns, making sure the course is clear for the event’s competitors. Zero car duties are often carried out at near-racing pace, offering manufacturers an opportunity to vigorously test a prototype of an upcoming model under challenging conditions.
Toyota’s rally-specification conversion of the FCV includes a rollcage, fire suppression, radio equipment, forged-alloy wheels, bucket seats and safety harnesses.
Toyota’s road version of the FCV sprints from standstill to 100km/h in approximately 10 seconds while emitting nothing but water.
The hydrogen-powered saloon has a range of 480km and goes on sale in Japan in April 2015 and Europe and North America in mid-2015.
Image credit: Toyota Motor Corporation