Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it will develop a hydrogen engine for mass production as the Japanese government and businesses are aiming to make the country carbon emission neutral by 2050.

To collect data for the development, Toyota will become the world's first automaker to take part in motor races with a vehicle using the engine that only burns hydrogen and does not emit carbon dioxide.

Screenshot shows Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda speaking at an online news conference on April 22, 2021. (Kyodo)

The mechanism of hydrogen engines is almost the same as that of gasoline engines, and most of the components for gasoline engines can be diverted, said Toyota, which has already developed a series of environment friendly cars including electric and fuel cell vehicles.

"We have accumulated (knowledge) in the auto industry for nearly 80 years. A hydrogen engine is a way to achieve carbon neutrality," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said in an online news conference.

It is still unclear when Toyota can start the mass production of hydrogen vehicles.

Some automakers tried to commercialize such vehicles in the 2000s, but they have not become popular partly due to the lack of hydrogen stations.

Challenges also remain to developing hydrogen engines such as curbing nitrogen oxide emissions, improving fuel economy and enhancing durability.

As part of efforts toward the development, Toyota will take part in races with a hydrogen vehicle, starting with a 24-hour endurance race in May at Fuji International Speedway in Shizuoka Prefecture.

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