Toyota has become the first manufacturer to reveal a concept car for the new hydrogen prototype class that is set to be introduced in the World Endurance Championship from 2026.
The car was unveiled on Friday at Le Mans and is due to complete a demonstration lap of the circuit on Saturday morning with Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda driving.
The GRH2 follows a series of other models Toyota has created for the top-class of the WEC and its presentation comes after comments from technical director Pascal Vasselon on Thursday that a win for a hydrogen car in 2026 “should be feasible”.
Although Toyoda has suggested the hydrogen car will race, the Japanese manufacturer has stopped short of making any firm commitment just yet.
It echoes comments from Toyota president Koji Sato made in Fuji at the end of last month when Toyota contested the 24-hour race with a hydrogen-powered Corolla and more details of the WEC hydrogen class were announced.
“Personally, my goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in motorsport without sacrificing performance or excitement,” said Toyoda. “And we wouldn’t be investing in this technology if we didn’t think we could win with it.
“I really want to encourage our competitors to consider hydrogen, not just because it’s good for the environment but because it’s truly an exciting option. The sound and torque, the dynamics, it’s all there.
“In the end, when it comes to carbon neutrality and motorsport, we will be pursuing every option from battery electric vehicles and beyond and that’s why [at] Toyota hydrogen is just one of the pathways that we’re heading in.
“This is indeed a special day for Toyota and an even more meaningful one for Le Mans.”
Toyota team director Rob Leupen added: “We are working very hard on this concept, like always, as a joint venture between Higashi-Fuji and Cologne.
“The target to realise this project on the race track, but we can’t make any commitments at the moment.”
When the hydrogen class was first mooted, it was planned that ORECA would supply a one-make chassis for the division in partnership with Red Bull Advanced Technologies, with manufacturers instead only developing the fuel cell.
While ORECA boss Hugues de Chaunac says Toyota is giving “a big acceleration” to the hydrogen programme and could encourage other manufacturers to investigate creating a car, he says the “best direction” for the class is still to be determined.
“It is too early to say if it will be like LMDh with many spec components,” he said. “We need to sit down and to see exactly how we have to have the best approach for that.”