Japanese carmakers showcase carbon-neutral fuels in road race

Toyota's engine is powered by hydrogen. PHOTO: SUBARU.CO.JP

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Japanese carmakers Toyota and Mazda showcased cars fitted with internal combustion engines that run on carbon-neutral fuels, which they see as an alternative to electric vehicles, by entering them in a three-hour road race.

The event takes place this weekend in Okayama in western Japan, the companies said Saturday (Nov 13).

Toyota's engine is powered by hydrogen and Mazda's by biodiesel.

Subaru also plans to enter next year with an engine fuelled by biomass-derived synthetic fuel.

The news underscores the belief prevalent among Japanese automakers that a wide variety of vehicle types, including hybrids, electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered cars, will play a role in decarbonising the auto industry over the coming decades.

That view is in contrast to others such as General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo, which aim to achieve carbon-neutrality by selling only electric vehicles two decades from now.

The engines powered by carbon-neutral fuels are also an attempt to save some of the hundreds of thousands of jobs related to combustion-engine parts that are predicted to disappear in Japan if the automotive sector makes a full shift to EVs.

Traditional engines only need to be tweaked in minor ways, such as changing out the fuel supply and injection systems, to make them capable of running on hydrogen, Toyota Chief Engineer Naoyuki Sakamoto said in a briefing last month.

Find out more about climate change and how it could affect you on the ST microsite here.