People who are still saying they’ll believe fuel cells will become mainstream when they see it are one step closer to this much-delayed “future” as evidenced by Toyota’s plans.
This week the maker of the Prius revealed the exterior design and Japan-market pricing for its production four-passenger fuel cell sedan it first showed last year at the Tokyo Motor Show, and which is pending global launch.
Toyota said the FCV will go on sale in Japan before April 2015, and in the U.S. and Europe in summer 2015. Price in Japan is 7 million yen (approx. $68,700) excluding consumption tax, and no lease price was divulged. As for EU and U.S. versions, pricing and lease details and other specifications are not divulged yet.
This year also Hyundai began offering its Tucson-based fuel cell vehicle in the U.S., and Honda says it will have a follow-up to its FCX Clarity to compete with Toyota, although it has revealed only a design concept at this point.
Toyota reiterated that hydrogen emits nothing and when compressed has greater energy density than lithium-ion batteries.
It said also it’s a “particularly promising alternative fuel” as it can be produced with a wide variety of energy sources, including solar and wind.
“Toyota’s commitment to environment-friendly vehicles is based on three basic principles: embracing diverse energy sources; developing efficient, low-emission vehicles; and driving real and positive environmental change by popularizing these vehicles,” said the company in a statement.
The fuel cell vehicle is said to benefit from 95 percent reduction in costs, and Toyota has been developing them in-house for over 20 years.
Toyota began leasing the “Toyota FCHV” SUV on a limited basis in Japan and the U.S. in 2002.
“Significant improvements have been made to the FC system since 2002,” said the company. “The fuel cell sedan Toyota revealed today, for example, features performance similar to a gasoline engine vehicle, with a cruising range of approximately 700 km (according to Toyota measurements taken under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s JC08 test cycle) and a refueling time of roughly three minutes.”
The company is also developing fuel cells for stationary power in buildings and homes, fork lifts and buses.