Toyota has introduced the FCV concept – a hydrogen-powered sedan that has a driving range of over 300 miles. “We aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel; just everything necessary to make them turn,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, at the opening of CES, the world’s largest trade show. “Fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected.”
In addition to having a driving range of 300 miles, the FCV concept can go from zero-to-sixty in about 10 seconds, with no emissions, other than water vapor. Refueling of its hydrogen tanks takes three to five minutes.
“Hydrogen works beautifully with oxygen to create water and electricity and nothing more,” said Carter. “For years, the use of hydrogen gas to power an electric vehicle has been seen by many smart people as a foolish quest. Yes, there are significant challenges. The first is building the vehicle at a reasonable price for many people. The second is doing what WE can to help kick-start the construction of convenient hydrogen refueling infrastructure. We’re doing a good job with both and we will launch in 2015.”
For the last 20 years, Toyota’s investment in fuel cell R&D has been massive. The result is the dramatically reduced cost of building a fuel cell powertrain.
Focusing on California, where the vehicle will be launched initially, Toyota has partnered with the University of California Irvine’s Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP) to help map out potential locations for new hydrogen fueling stations.
Already, California has approved more than $200 million in funding to build about 20 new hydrogen stations by 2015, a total of 40 by 2016, and as many as 100 by 2024.
“Stay tuned,” added Carter, “because this infrastructure thing is going to happen.”
While specific sales volumes will be announced closer to launch, Carter said that Toyota has revised initial market plans and requested additional vehicles. More information will be announced in the weeks and months ahead, including U.S. sales volume targets, the name of the vehicle and comprehensive specifications and performance data.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.