Toyota has for a while heard criticism against “fool cells,” as Tesla CEO Elon Musk called them last June, and this week Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter answered Musk’s latest panning of the technology.
The occasion was with CNBC’s Phil LeBeau at the J.D. Power Automotive Summit in San Francisco Thursday. It was here Carter gave his own views of statements Musk made Jan. 13 as a featured speaker at the Automotive News World Congress.
“I’m a little disappointed in Mr. Musk’s comments in Detroit last week. But I understand. If I was in a position that I had all of my eggs in one basket I would perhaps be making those same comments,” Carter told LeBeau.
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At the Automotive News World Congress, while conceding Tesla itself won’t be profitable until 2020, Musk had urged automakers to push ahead on battery electric technology and also took the occasion to dismiss fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), saying electric cars are the future.
“I just think that they are extremely silly,” Musk said of hydrogen vehicles. “If you’re going to pick an energy storage mechanism, hydrogen is an incredibly dumb one to pick. You should pick methane. That’s much, much easier. Or propane.”
But Carter said he disagrees.
“When you take a look at the future, [FCVs are] not a 24- to 36-month play,” said Carter. He added that “when you start looking in the 2020s, anybody that would deny [the potential of] moving from an oil-based economy to a hydrogen-based economy [isn’t] looking at the future correctly.”
Toyota, in the meantime, announced that after receiving strong interest for the Mirai, it will more than double production on the FCV. The company has received 1,500 orders in Japan; in the U.S., around 16,000 intenders have requested more information. The automaker’s first FCV went on sale in Japan last month and will arrive in the U.S. later this year.