OYAMA, Japan — It is a familiar racetrack scene. But this time, Toyota has a new twist.
The automaker's petrol-head president, Akio Toyoda, is barreling down the straight at Fuji Speedway in a souped-up Toyota racer, clocking 140 mph with thunderous engine growls and bone-rattling vibrations before slamming on the brakes to tuck into the corner.
His tire-smoking No. 32 race-spec Corolla looks, sounds and drives like any other car in the field. But there is one important, invisible difference. While the rival racers are all burning gasoline, Toyoda's engine is powered by hydrogen — and it is churning out virtually no carbon dioxide.
Note the distinction: It's not a silent hydrogen "fuel cell" under the hood, but a freshly minted "hydrogen-burning" three- banger.
The engine is still just a prototype, but Toyoda believes it holds big promise for his company, for the industry and for carbon neutrality in a world seemingly gone gaga over full-electric vehicles.