Sasol, Toyota and Air Products demonstrate on-road hydrogen mobility ecosystem

  • Sasol, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM), and Air Products South Africa (APSA) made history at the Smart Mobility Africa Summit yesterday, at the Gallagher Convention Centre, in Johannesburg with the presentation of South Africa’s first on-road demonstration of a hydrogen mobility ecosystem.

The proof-of-concept used a second-generation Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) fuelled with hydrogen produced by Sasol and dispensing technology provided by Air Products, to take several VIPs as passengers around a test track. The partnership between the three technology leaders was formed in 2021 to promote the use of hydrogen as a fuel of the future.

This proof-of-concept demonstration showcased a hydrogen mobility ecosystem, a sustainable alternative that can decarbonise the hard-to-abate and hard-to-electrify heavy duty transport sector such as long-haul trucks, buses and mining fleets.

“Toyota has been actively involved in the research and development of vehicles using hydrogen as a source of motive power for more than 30 years, going back to 1992,” explained Andrew Kirby, President and CEO of Toyota SA Motors.

“Toyota has sold more than 25 000 fuel cell electric vehicles since then. In fact, a prototype FCEV was used in a static display at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development which was held in Johannesburg. Today we are proud to have two of our second-generation Toyota Mirai sedans here for the ecosystem demonstration. They are the flagships of our hydrogen FCEV programme and were only launched last year. The first generation Mirai went on sale in 2015 and 12 000 of them were sold in seven years,” explained Kirby.

“The challenge is how to commercialise a hydrogen mobility ecosystem in South Africa because it is a costly undertaking. It now needs more partners, investors and support from the government. The current partnership is looking at so-called eco-clusters as a start, i.e. high commercial traffic areas in the country. Initially the Pretoria-Johannesburg region could be well-suited as the these are high volume routes which could justify investment in hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. Longer term the focus will be on expanding the hydrogen ecosystems along major long-haul routes such as the N3 between Johannesburg and Durban and later into other African countries,” explained Kirby.

“Ideally, we need businesses and fleets to commit up front to buy hydrogen FCEVs and substantial quantities of hydrogen to make the necessary infrastructure viable. Pricing of green hydrogen varies at this stage, but what we do know is that pricing is very dependent on economies of scale. This is going to be an exciting but demanding journey and TSAM is pleased to be part of it,” concluded Kirby.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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