Toyota Motor Corp. made its case for a hydrogen-powered future last week by revealing the exterior of a fuel cell sedan that will go on sale in 2015.
Known for now as the FCV, the new vehicle will offer a range of about 420 miles, will recharge in about three minutes, and will cost about 7 million yen ($69,000). Sales are scheduled to begin before April 2015 in Japan, followed by the US and Europe in June.
Toyota unveiled the vehicle at a press conference last week in which it traced the history of the automobile and made the case for hydrogen's role in a "new period of diversity" in transportation. The company contended that hydrogen compares favorably to other fuel sources (including batteries, biofuels, and natural gas) in all areas except dedicated infrastructure.
Toyota's fuel cell vehicle will offer a driving range of about 420 miles.
(Source: Toyota Motor Corp.)
During the hour-long introduction, Toyota made a special effort to cite the shortcomings of battery-electric vehicles, especially with regard to driving range and refueling time. "Toyota considers that the EV is a vehicle that is best suited for particular purposes, such as short-range traveling and fleet use," executive vice president Mitsuhisa Kato told the audience.
Toyota offers the battery-powered RAV4 EV, but only in very limited numbers. The company has repeatedly contended that plug-in hybrid vehicles make more sense than pure EVs for a broad swath of consumers.
Because last week's introduction was meant only as a peek at the new vehicle's exterior, few technical details were offered. Kato did say that Toyota has made numerous improvements in the technology over the past few years, including a 20% boost in hydrogen tank storage density. Also, the number of onboard storage tanks has been cut from four to two.
Toyota introduced its FCV at a press conference last week and plans for the vehicle to go on sale in 2015.
(Source: Toyota Motor Corp.)
Toyota's announcement followed on the heels of the lease of Hyundai's first hydrogen-powered car, the Tucson Fuel Cell, a few weeks ago. Hyundai leases the Tucson for $499 a month and plans to build about 1,000 of them by the end of 2015. Similarly, Honda has said it is hatching plans to launch a hydrogen-powered production car in 2015.
Industry analysts say that much work remains before fuel cells can compete with battery-electric cars, let alone gasoline-burning ones. Refueling stations are virtually nonexistent in most parts of the country, making it almost impossible for automakers to sell the vehicles in many locales. Also, the vehicles and hydrogen fuel still too much for most consumers.
"The vehicles need to get to a price point of about $30,000," Cosmin Laslau of Lux Research told us recently. For the average consumer, fuel cell vehicles are still not a viable option in the near term, he said.
- Would You Pay $30K for an Electric Car?
- Lithium Chemistries Head List of Next-Gen EV Batteries
- Can Tesla's $5 Billion Bet Pay Off?
- Tiny Sensor Monitors Batteries on Start-Stop Cars
- Don't Hold Your Breath for Volkswagen's Lithium-Air Battery
- Tesla's Gigafactory Would Bring Us Closer to Reality
- Slideshow: Considering the History of Electric Cars...
- Could Tesla 'Gigafactory' Bring EVs to the Masses?
- Slideshow: Volkswagen Plugs in the New Golf
- Slideshow: Why California Matters to the EV Market
- The Tesla Fires Are Fixable
- Kia Bares Its Soul EV in Chicago
- Will Parking Problems Slow the Rise of Electric Vehicles?
- Slideshow: Toyota Moves Closer to Fuel Cell Production Car
- Slideshow: Hydrogen-Powered Hyundai to Hit Showrooms in February
- New EV Battery Chemistry Boosts Range, Life
- Tesla to NHTSA: Investigate Our Model S Fires
- Slideshow: Urbee Developer Shooting for 290 MPG
- Is Wireless EV Charging the Better Way?
- EV Battery Maker A123 to Focus on Micro-Hybrids
- Slideshow: 'Bizarre' Incident Led to Tesla Battery Fire
- Video: Impact Caused Tesla Battery Fire
- Toyota Is Sticking With Hybrids
- Long-Range Affordable EV Won't Be Easy
- Slideshow: EVs & Plug-Ins for 2014
- Slideshow: Smart EV Has No Doors or Windows
- Slideshow: Volkswagen Takes a Deep Dive Into Electrics
- Slideshow: Safety Ratings for EVs & Plug-In Hybrids
- Why Electric Cars Are Safer
- GM Chops $5,000 From Chevy Volt Price
- Is Range Anxiety Real?
- Slideshow: BMW Unveils Premium Electric Car
- Slideshow: High-Voltage Hybrids & EVs
- Loss of Subsidies Could Burst EV Bubble
- How Much Would You Pay for an EV?
- Tesla Aims to Win Over Skeptics With Battery Swap Stations
- DOE Tool Compares Gasoline to Electricity Costs
- Slideshow: Automakers Look to a Hydrogen Car Future
- Slideshow: Detroit Electric Unveils 'World's Fastest' Electric Sports Car
- Slideshow: Porsche Plans Plug-In Hybrid
- Lithium-Ion Batteries Overheated in Mitsubishi Vehicles
- Slideshow: Volkswagen to Build World's Most Fuel-Efficient Car
- Slideshow: Fisker Says 'Plug-In Hybrids Make More Sense Than Pure Electrics'
- Auto Execs: Plug-In Hybrids Will Soar, Pure EVs Decline
- Slideshow: Cadillac ELR Trades Efficiency for Power
- Slideshow: Tesla's Model X Blends Electricity & Function
- 'EV Triumph' Needs More Perspective, Less Hype
- Slideshow: BMW's All-Electric Concept Coupe
- Old EV Batteries May Power Homes One Day
- Slideshow: Why Automakers Are Rolling Out Electric Cars
- Slideshow: Chrysler Rolls Out All-Electric Fiat
- Slideshow: GM Debuts Pure-Electric Spark
- Could Pure Electrics Emit More Than Hybrids?
- New Standard Will Cut EV Charging Time
- Future Batteries, by the Numbers
- Big Battery EVs Under Fire
- Chevy Volt: It's Not Time to Panic
- Lead-Acid Batteries Seek New Role in Hybrids, Plug-Ins
- GM to Idle Chevy Volt Production Again
- 54.5 MPG Comes With Trade-Offs
- Slideshow: Top 12 Most Fuel-Efficient EVs & Plug-In Hybrids
- Tesla's CEO: 'Half of Cars Will Be Electric in 15 Years'
- Big Battery Means Big Range, Cost for Tesla's Model S
- EV Battery Chemistry Could Eliminate Cooling Systems
- The 'Conspiracy' Behind the EV Market
- China's Electric Cars No Better Than Ours
- How Would You Cope With High Gas Prices?
- 'Revenge of the Electric Car' Gives Glimpse Into Minds of EV Faithful
- Why Is EV Battery Development So Hard?
- Hybrid Redux? Not for Most Owners
- EV Batteries: Solid Concept, but Not Ready for Prime Time
- EV Battery Report Says Costs Going Down
- Internal Combustion Engines Primed for Performance
- Electric Car Subsidies Won't Make EV Batteries Better
- Slideshow: Airbags From the Inside Out
- Slideshow: Detroit Auto Show's Concept Cars Roll Hybrid
- Slideshow: Electric Car Batteries Get Bigger
- Slideshow: Detroit Auto Show Highlights EVs, Hybrids
- Tesla Model S Hitting the Road This Summer
- Superbattery: The Next Great Triumph of Engineering
- Li-Ion Batteries in EVs May Last Longer
- Slideshow: 'Start-Stop' Hybrids Hit the Road
- Slideshow: Top 5 Automotive Trends to Watch in 2012
- Slideshow: Autonomous Vehicles Leave the Driving to... Themselves
- Electric Vehicles: How Far Have We Come in 100 Years?
- Would You Buy a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt?
- GM to Build First All-Electric Car Since EV1
- Slideshow: Car Electronics, From Dashboard Nav to Autonomous Vehicles
- Is GM's EV1 Still the Best Electric Car Ever?
- Does Anyone Know the True Cost of EV Batteries? (Not Really)
- Prius Plugs Into a New Era
- Nissan Bets on the Electric Car
- Tesla Engineer Boosts EV Range to New Heights