Chicken Litter Powers Toyota’s Highway to Decarbonisation!

Hydrogen Corollas feature at Thailand demos

Wed 21 Feb 24


Toyota Motor Corporation has launched an extensive decarbonisation campaign with an eye on commercial demand for electric and fuel-cell vehicles.

“I believe our actions now can change what the future looks like,” Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda said at a Bangkok demonstration last month, also announcing test cars at the event were powered by an engine fuelled partly with hydrogen made from chicken litter, a mix of bedding material, manure and feathers from intensive poultry production.

Toyota, partnering with Thai-based environmental group Charoen Pokphand, says manure from 30 million chickens can power 100,000 small trucks for a year with Toyota-Isuzu Motors already testing hydrogen in fuel-cell trucks.

Akio Toyoda… welcome to the world of decarbonisation technology.

The decarbonisation technologies include an electric version of Toyota’s Hilux pickup truck.

Toyota has deep ties with Thailand, which explains why the Japanese carmaker is launching initiatives there. Akio Toyoda has long stated that Thailand is “our second home”.

When the company faced a large recall in the US in 2010, shortly after Toyoda became CEO and president, Thailand’s monarch voiced his trust in the automaker.

Another reason is the automaker’s record in Thailand with a market share of more than 30% turning it into a major production base and earning the nickname, ‘the Detroit of Asia’.

Toyota has an overwhelming lead in hybrid vehicles but wants to grow the EV and fuel-cell vehicle fields in alliance with Thai firms such as the CP Group.

Among Toyota’s race entrants at the Thai demonstration was a hydrogen-powered Corolla, which Akio Toyoda himself tested, again highlighting decarbonisation technologies, including an electric version of Toyota’s Hilux pickup truck.

So, birds of a feather flock together. Last week we tested another Corolla, Toyota’s 2023 GR Pet Man, a true high-performance version of Toyota’s best-selling hatchback.

Following on the heels of its smaller GR Yaris sibling, the GR takes that car’s mechanical package and installs it in a larger five-door bodyshell, providing greater practicality, a better interior but retaining a hefty performance.

An aggressive 1.6-litre turbo-charged three-cylinder puts out 221kW and 370Nm via a six-speed manual transmission to a permanent – and adjustable – all-wheel drive system, delivering 21kW more power than the GR Yaris.

Pricing starts from $62,300 plus on-road costs, putting it above the Hyundai i30 N and Volkswagen Golf GTI but below the Honda Civic Type R and VW Golf R.

Toyota Australia originally sourced 500 cars for the first 12 months but has managed to increase this to 700, although demand is still expected to outstrip supply with 5000 buyers waiting impatiently in the wings.

The GR’s stance is about 60 mm wider than the average Corolla Hatch, while chassis rigidity has been increased to enhance both corner stability and grip.

The rally-derived GR-wheel drive system allows front and rear output to 60/40 everyday driving, 50/50 for balanced track precision or 30/70 for rear-wheel driving with a playful amount of oversteer. There are three functional tailpipes with an exhaust valve that opens at high speeds.

“More engine power, More noise. More fun,” says Toyota.

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GR’s six-speed manual transmission (love the stick shift), a permanent – and adjustable – all-wheel drive system.

The engine propels the GR’s kerb weight of 1485 kg from start to 100km/hour in just 5.29 seconds. Thanks to the AWD system, wheelspin, even in the wet, is non-existent.

The GR has a thrifty combined fuel consumption of 8.4L/100km running best on 98RON premium unleaded fuel drawn from a 50-litre fuel tank.

An impressive audio system uses an 8-in. touchscreen with over-the-air updates and both touch and voice commands. Also, it can connect to multiple Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

Standard features include keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, heated leather and suede front seats (manually adjustable), heated steering wheel, 18-in. Enkei alloy wheels and LED lighting.

In addition to seven airbags, a reversing camera and parking sensors at both ends, the GR embraces Toyota’s ‘safety-sense’ system which gives autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active cruise control, emergency steering assist, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, speed sign recognition, auto high beam, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

Despite its undoubted performance potential, the GR Corolla is still covered by Toyota’s five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with an extra two years’ coverage on the engine and driveline.

The GR is the second of two Corolla models in Australia, the other the higher-performance ‘Morizo’ edition at $77,800, plus on-roads.


  • Orson Whiels

    Orson Whiels has been a motoring writer for many years and was motoring writer at Queensland Country life in the 1960s-70s and then motoring editor at Australian Timberman.)


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