Toyota and Yamaha working together on an engine must be good news. Because the last time it happened (or the last time we remember, at least), was the Lexus LFA's 4.8 V10, which can legitimately claim to be perhaps the greatest engine ever found in a production car. Therefore even the early development stages of a new project are notable.
Once more, Lexus is involved. The engine you see here is the 5.0-litre V8 found in cars like the RC F and LC (the 2UR-GSE to those that know their 2JZ from their 2ZZ), modified by Yamaha to run on hydrogen. Just like with the GR Yaris revealed at the end of last year, in fact. Similarly to that car, the 2UR (which originally featured some Yamaha-designed parts) has been modified extensively to accommodate the alternative fuel, with changes to the inlet manifold, cylinder head and injectors.
There's plenty to be encouraged by with this new engine, not least the power. Yamaha claims the hydrogen V8 is producing 450hp at 6,800rpm, which isn't far off the petrol version's 477hp at 7,100rpm. Torque is actually rated at a little higher than standard, with 398lb ft at 3,600rpm, against 391lb ft from 4,800rpm-5,600rpm.
There's the noise to think about, too, which has always been a selling point of these V8-powered Lexuses - even if long gear ratios have kept the best bits largely out of reach. Takeshi Yamada, part of Yamaha's R&D team that's been developing hydrogen engines for around five years, described the sound of a combustion engine as "a challenge we can sink out teeth into". He added: "I personally want to pursue not just performance but also a new allure for the internal combustion engine that the world has yet to see." That's a reference to 'Kanno Seino', a Japanese term for sensual or exhilarating performance. Which we'd all argue is key, surely, as what's lacking from so many low carbon powertrains is not performance, but rather the sensual and exhilarating bit.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though, as this news doesn't immediately mean hydrogen V8s for everyone that wants one. The technology is still being tested in Toyota's Super Taikyu Corolla touring car, and hydrogen remains just one pillar of its strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Toyota knows the risks of putting all the eggs in one basket, having launched the Prius 25 years ago as a tech trailblazer - but only adding a plug-in option after rivals already offered it. Still, this hydrogen engine is another interesting development, and proof that the deal signed last November - Toyota, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Subaru, and Mazda agreed to work on "expanding the range of fuel options for internal combustion engines in the quest for carbon neutrality" - is already bearing fruit.
Of course, you can forget about a confirmed date for a hydrogen V8 going in a Lexus, but it's proof of the concept if nothing else. We'll leave the final word to Yamaha Motor president Yoshihiro Hidaka: "We are working toward achieving carbon neutrality by 2050... "At the same time, 'Motor' is in our company name and we accordingly have a strong passion for and level of commitment to the internal combustion engine." Hear, hear, Mr Hidaka.
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