Toyota’s next hydrogen car will be a Crown sedan

Toyota hopes the Crown will help propel its worldwide fuel cell vehicle sales to 8,000 units in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, from 3,440 the previous fiscal year.

Fuel cell sales are rising but still have gauge numbers. Toyota’s full electric vehicle sales, by contrast, are expected to rise more than fivefold to 202,000 this fiscal year.

In a briefing about Toyota’s drivetrain strategy in April, Executive Vice President Hiroki Nakajima said the company sees mass production of fuel cells being driven by commercial vehicles.

“The energy source, hydrogen, is lightweight, so even when traveling longer distances the vehicle is not as heavy as a battery EV, and less space is required,” Nakajima said. “Refueling is also much quicker. Taking advantage of these strengths, we will work with business operators to promote FCEVs by starting with commercial vehicles such as medium-to heavy-duty trucks.”

Fuel cell technology was one key thrust of Toyota’s decision last week to agree with Daimler Trucks on combining their commercial truck subsidiaries, Hino and Mitsubishi Fuso.

The Crown sedan is one of four body types being spun off from the Crown nameplate. It follows the jacked-up, muscular Crown crossover variant on sale in the US and Japan.

The sedan is a sleek, low-slung four door with straight character lines for a futuristic, technical look. It will be available in hybrid and fuel cell powertrains and go on sale in Japan this fall.

Also at work is a Crown sport type, which will have a standard hybrid sale on sale in Japan this fall and a plug-in hybrid version hitting the local market in the winter.

Finally, a Crown estate variant is being positioned as a more upright, wagon-inspired body type. It will be offered, at least in Japan, starting in 2024 in both standard and plug-in hybrid versions.

Toyota plans to sell versions of the upcoming Crown series in 40 countries with annual sales volumes topping 200,000 a year when all four body types are in production.

As for hydrogen, Toyota said in 2015 that it wanted to sell 30,000 fuel cell vehicles a year in 2020, including buses, trucks and forklifts in addition to cars such as the Mirai.

It hasn’t panned out that way.

From 2002 through March 31, 2023, Toyota sold a total of 23,123 fuel cell vehicles. The Mirai fuel cell car, now in its second generation as a premium full-size sedan, accounted for 22,929 of that total. The first-generation Mirai debuted in December 2014.

In the 2022 calendar year, Toyota sold 3,907 Mirais worldwide.

North America was the biggest market for the Mirai in 2022, snapping up 2,156 units of the car. Toyota sold 831 Mirais in Japan and another 754 in Europe.

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