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Toyota is betting big on the hydrogen for the long term. Its first fuel cell vehicles (like the Toyota FCHV pictured here at the 2008 New York Auto Show) may debut in 2015. Meanwhile it is scorning electric plug-in offerings.

Toyota plans on continuing to use less efficient nickel-metal batteries in its future Prius vehicles. It believes lithium-based batteries are too expensive for the efficiency gains they offer.
From battery chemistry, to electric vehicle adoption, Toyota isn't going with the flow

If you used industry-wide levels of interest in lithium-ion battery technology and electric vehicles as a barometer, both of these fields are at record highs.  In the U.S., the former "Big Three" -- GM, Chrysler, and Ford -- all have electric vehicles planned for release, with the GM's 2011 Chevy Volt being perhaps the biggest attraction.  In Germany, Daimler and child company Mercedes-Benz have both concepts and planned market EVs.  And in Japan, Nissan is gearing up to debut the electric-only 2011 Leaf EV.  All of these companies' electric efforts are driven by lithium-ion batteries, and these batteries are going in their hybrids as well.

The world's most successful vendor of electric vehicle technology, albeit in the form of mild hybrids, Toyota is going against the current on both of these trends, though.  In a new Bloomberg report aired concurrent with the Frankfurt Auto Show, it is revealed that Toyota extensively tested lithium-ion batteries as a potential replacement for the nickel-metal hydride batteries in its Prius and other mild hybrids.

What it found was that while the batteries were extremely efficient and didn't raise serious reliability or safety concerns, they were overly expensive for the gains they provided.  For that reason, Toyota reportedly concluded that the market wasn't ready for lithium and has decided to primarily continue with its nickel-based batteries for most of its hybrid cars.

Toyota also concluded that electric vehicles were too expensive to succeed in the current market.  Toyota Executive Vice President Takeshi Uchiyamada stated at a Frankfurt Auto Show press conference, "Electric vehicles of today are less costly than in 1990s, but if you compare them with the other vehicles out there they are still too expensive.  Unless there is a very big breakthrough in battery costs I don't think electric vehicles can take a large market share."

Toyota indicated that it will likely stay out of the electric vehicle market for close to a decade, the time it believes it will take for EVs to become profitable and affordable enough for the masses.

So is Toyota right?  It's hard to say.  Toyota's demonstration of business acumen over the last several years is hard to argue, given its ability to produce the first profitable mass-production hybrid, the Prius, which leads worldwide hybrid sales to date.  Furthermore, there are a handful of competitors, such as Germany's Audi, whose management are split on the viability of electric vehicles (Audi's North American president recently called buyers of the Chevy Volt EV "idiots"). 

On the other hand, the vast majority of the industry is shifting towards all electrics, and if Toyota counts on its competitors to lower production costs, it may find itself in a foreign hole when it finally decides to enter the market.  While some of the German automakers are pushing for clean diesel as a supplement or alternative to hybrids, Toyota is pushing hydrogen as a long term solution, a technology that faces significant production, transport, and storage obstacles -- all of which raise the price.  Toyota may release a fuel cell (hydrogen) car by 2015, according to recent reports. 

So for now Toyota is opting for one of the least expensive and most proven solutions (mild hybrids), while its mid-to-long term efforts focus on what is currently the most expensive and least proven solution of them all -- hydrogen.

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I hope they do...
By Masospaghetti on 9/16/2009 8:41:43 AM , Rating: 2
I hope Toyota can release a hydrogen vehicle by 2015 and get the ball rolling...especially since GM, Honda, and BMW all already have a lot of development done with hydrogen tech and could easily enter the market after infrastructure is in place.

GM and Honda in particular hold a lot of promise in this area, with "Project Driveway" with the fuel-cell Equinoxes and Honda's FCX Clarity leases.

RE: I hope they do...
By FITCamaro on 9/16/2009 9:02:06 AM , Rating: 2
GM has been saying hydrogen for the past 15 years. Now it only gets attention because Toyota is agreeing?

RE: I hope they do...
By Bateluer on 9/16/2009 9:08:33 AM , Rating: 5
All the automakers have been saying hydrogen cars will be available within the next 10 years. Trouble is, they've been saying it for the past 30 years.

RE: I hope they do...
By The0ne on 9/17/2009 1:54:56 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, truly a shame. But more hype means more focus and R&D! :)

RE: I hope they do...
By Dorkyman on 9/18/2009 12:20:13 PM , Rating: 2
I think I see what they're doing here. I believe Toyota has the best engineering in the industry as well as the best management. They are not chasing after bogus dreams but are focused on remaining competitive (read: profitable) for the indefinite future. Hybrids, such as their current offerings, give the most bang for the buck, and they will continue in that direction. At the same time, they don't want to fall out of favor with touchy-feely "futures" gurus and the current Washington administration, so they are tossing about the magic word "hydrogen" even though that is an extremely long shot. They've covered their behinds without taking a huge risk. Pretty smart.

RE: I hope they do...
By Masospaghetti on 9/16/2009 3:14:14 PM , Rating: 2
I recognize that GM has made more progress with hydrogen than anyone else but they don't seem to have enough momentum alone to bring a vehicle to market with the supporting infrastructure - having a second large player, especially the media-darling Toyota, will help tremendously in getting the ball rolling.

RE: I hope they do...
By tapa on 9/18/2009 9:40:59 AM , Rating: 2
I recognize that not. Honda has actually made a hydrogen car (the Clarity) that can be used by ordinary people without 2 engineers sitting behind you and monitoring the telemetry. Honda's also ahead with the fuel cell technology itself. They've produced a powerful compact design that works reliably. That's something unheard of in the fuel cell vehicle world. Now the race is to bring down costs. And I don't mean costs of hydrogen - that is already less than gasoline equivalent.

RE: I hope they do...
By Spivonious on 9/16/2009 9:40:18 AM , Rating: 5
They can release all the hydrogen vehicles they want to.

Until a system of hydrogen refueling stations exists, hydrogen cars will go nowhere (pun intended).

RE: I hope they do...
By superPC on 9/16/2009 9:43:49 AM , Rating: 2
that's exactly right. hydrogen cars and hydrogen support system (pumping station etc.) is kind of a chicken and egg thing. one can't exist without the other yet it has to start somewhere.

RE: I hope they do...
By Chudilo on 9/16/2009 10:07:36 AM , Rating: 2
I will personally pay a 15k dollar premium, and will drive across the city (to GAS it up with hydrogen) to push the adoption of this technology forward. If, and only IF, a decent vehicle, that has decent handling and reasonable acceleration was available. Prius-type vehicle is an embarrassment to the auto-industry.

RE: I hope they do...
By Spuke on 9/16/2009 1:05:17 PM , Rating: 4
I will personally pay a 15k dollar premium, and will drive across the city (to GAS it up with hydrogen) to push the adoption of this technology forward.
Here you go. And it's only $600 a month for a 3 year lease. That doesn't include taxes and registration though. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any hydrogen vehicles that you can actually buy but this will help push the tech along. Just rent a car for long trips.

RE: I hope they do...
By invidious on 9/16/2009 5:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
I was told by Honda that retail stations in California are selling H2 for $5/kg
60 gallons per kg and $5/kg. They say mpg is roughly equivilant to mpkg. So with gas currently at $2.70 a gallon, this has fuel costs roughly equivilant to a 33 mpg car.

It costs $21,000 to lease it for 3 years. They don't even mention any performance benchmarks on the website so it's probably safe to assume it is weak.

This technology is clearly no where near ready for the market, but it is interesting that it is even available.

RE: I hope they do...
By EJ257 on 9/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: I hope they do...
By Entropy42 on 9/16/2009 10:32:11 AM , Rating: 5
Seriously? Please tell me this was sarcasm.

RE: I hope they do...
By Pneumothorax on 9/16/2009 12:36:34 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, it just takes a little energy to break the O-H bonds lol.

RE: I hope they do...
By ClownPuncher on 9/16/09, Rating: 0
RE: I hope they do...
By ArcliteHawaii on 9/16/2009 8:30:20 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, please tell me how this would not work. Electrolysis units are small. The unit could run while plugged in at night, refilling the fuel cell with hydrogen. Excess heat could be bled off using a small radiator. Currently the FCX, a first gen fuel cell vehicle, has a range of almost 300 miles per tank, which is better than any battery only vehicle. You could still refuel the cell directly with hydrogen at a filling station if you needed to drive further than that in a day.

RE: I hope they do...
By piroroadkill on 9/17/2009 6:26:24 AM , Rating: 2
If you planned to plug in your car at night, you would be absolutely retarded to use that energy to create hydrogen from water, when the efficiency is absolutely terrible in comparison to simply.. charging a battery

RE: I hope they do...
By ArcliteHawaii on 9/17/2009 8:46:46 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, it's not as energy efficient. Electrolysis has an efficiency of 50-70% according to Wikipedia. There's a lot of waste heat.

However, there are benefits to fuel cells that extend beyond that though. You're trading charging efficiency for range and weight. Fuel cells are relatively light compared to large battery packs. And 300 miles is the range of first gen fuel cell vehicles. I expect that range to increase further as fuel cells improve. Batteries can't touch that. And you still have the option of refueling a fuel cell in a few minutes, which you do not have with a battery pack.

RE: I hope they do...
By mattclary on 9/16/2009 4:16:53 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, your idea isn't THAT bad. But instead, you add water at home and plug it into a wall socket at night.

RE: I hope they do...
By JediJeb on 9/17/2009 3:24:29 PM , Rating: 2
There is work being done on using catalyst to do the water to hydrogen conversion but that tech will be some time off. Lithium, Sodium, Calcium and some other metals release H2 from water when they are mixed but then you need to get rid of the metal oxides that are left behind. Also these reactions produce a lot of heat. If a catalyst can be found that is not used up in a chemical reaction like the above metals then you might have a winner. Or a catalyst that greatly reduces the amount of electricity needed so that a small solar panel would provide enough hydrogen for powering a vehicle, would also be great.

RE: I hope they do...
By mars2k on 9/16/2009 10:16:18 AM , Rating: 2
Meanwhile Honda has the Hydrogen fueled Clarity on the roads in California. GM has a Hydrogen test program in New York. The trouble is not whether Hydrogen fuel cells work its how to we get the Hyudrogen infrastructure up in a meaningfull way.

RE: I hope they do...
By ArcliteHawaii on 9/16/2009 8:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure it will be an organic, slow process. First, you start with fleet vehicles that refuel centrally like postal trucks and buses. That helps you build your infrastructure. After building that up and working out the kinks, you branch out into dense urban areas, where a few fueling stations can service a large number of potential customers. The vehicles prove themselves and you have enough market penetration to afford building fueling stations in the suburbs. Finally, with gasoline running $12 a gallon, hydrogen cars have 30-50% market penetration so you can afford to build stations anywhere. End to end would probably happen in 20 years, give or take 5.

RE: I hope they do...
By Jeffk464 on 9/17/2009 1:16:33 AM , Rating: 2
My understanding is that fuel cells are still to expensive and are far from lasting a minimum of 10 years which any car should last(even Chrysler).

RE: I hope they do...
By ArcliteHawaii on 9/17/2009 5:51:31 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not disagreeing. I'm just explaining how one infrastructure might displace another. There are still lots of issues with fuel cells, including both longevity and cost.

RE: I hope they do...
By Starcub on 9/16/2009 10:35:08 AM , Rating: 3
Ditto, but I have questions. Why drop EV's altogether? Why not continue to develop NiMH based hybrids -- serial hybrids even? Imagine a hydrogen based serial hybrid plug-in EV.

The comparison here doesn't sound right. They expect that hydrogen will be cheaper than lithium? When? What kind of hydrogen infrastructure do they expect will be in place if everyone is developing EV's? By the time hydrogen is viable in the marketplace, I would expect that EV's would be at a profit point beyond what hydrogen alone could deliver.

RE: I hope they do...
By drmo on 9/17/2009 9:10:15 AM , Rating: 2
The Honda Clarity is a hybrid.

RE: I hope they do...
By Dwayno on 9/16/2009 4:03:05 PM , Rating: 3
Having worked in 34 years in R&D for a car company, I got to see a lot of advance work on experimental programs. Hydrogen, as with any new tech, has similar "teething" problems as any program.

Hydrogen is very corrosive...therefore the fuel line as well as all the fitting must be made of stainless steel. Since hydrogen must be stored under very high pressures to obtain the quantity needed for any serious driving...therefore all of the connection must use a compression fitting. Since hydrogen is such a light gas, the compression fittings must be spot on or they will leak (the hydrogen gas leaks that the space shuttle experiences from time to time exemplifies this problem...and the shuttle are basically hand built!). Imagine the problem this will creat with dozens of joints on hundreds of thousands vehicle.

There are no free rides electric charging stations exist for plug-in electric vehicles whenever you forget to charge your car, nor hydrogen refueling station whenever you run out of gas. Clean diesels can work, but setting up manufacturing is still 18-24 months away starting right they may be made obsolete by ever tightening CO2 standards. Hybrid aren't the perfect vehicles, but for the immediate future, they are the closest we have to a clean vehicle.

RE: I hope they do...
By Micronite on 9/16/2009 6:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
You'll be able to go hydrogen sooner than you think...

RE: I hope they do...
By Ringold on 9/17/2009 2:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
United Nuclear's been poking at that for.. 4 years? 6 years? Its run by Bob Lazar, this guy:

So.. a grain of salt is called for.

RE: I hope they do...
By Major HooHaa on 9/17/2009 6:45:06 AM , Rating: 2
A car that uses hydrogen for fuel and only produces water from the exhaust pipe? Three cheers for Toyota!

This would massively reduce environmental pollution and make our world a less polluted place.

As James May said; Producing hydrogen for cars shouldn't be any more difficult than getting oil from under the seabed... And we did that okay.

I have read recently that a new and more energy efficient ways of producing hydrogen has been developed.

RE: I hope they do...
By jimbojimbo on 9/17/2009 1:41:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and hydrogen grows on trees. How do you supposed that hydrogen is produced?

RE: I hope they do...
By JediJeb on 9/17/2009 3:38:09 PM , Rating: 2
Here is research into two ways to make hydrogen with less energy input.

There is a lot of work going into making Hydrogen more efficiently. If it works out then Hydrogen may become more economical and less energy intensive than other fuels. Still a lot of work to be done, but it is being done. Don't rule Hydrogen out yet as the future fuel for most of our daily needs.

I have to chuckle...
By klstay on 9/16/2009 8:52:31 AM , Rating: 5
... every time I read stuff like this.

First, it is pretty hard to argue with Toyota's ability to read the tea leaves of the auto industry. Personally, I would not bet against any direction they decide upon.

Having stated that it is interesting to read of the "infrastructure" build-out needed for hydrogen. Can anyone say CNG? Half the home in the US are heated today with natural gas. So, the infrastructure for it is DONE. With the recent finds we are lousy with the stuff. It burns with practically zero emissions. (Only pure electrics IF the electricity came from hydro, nuclear, wind, solar etc. have lower emissions.)

RE: I have to chuckle...
By bhieb on 9/16/2009 9:39:54 AM , Rating: 3
Agreed, the infrastructure is the #1 obstacle to hydrogen. Who wants a car they can only drive in certain parts of CA. Car makers are not going to invest until the infrastructure is there, and the cost of piping/tanking up the entire US with hydrogen is way to prohibitive.

Honestly I don't see how you can make the argument for hydrogen anytime in the near future, let alone the next 10-20 years. CNG is not 100% ready for mass adoption, but it is WAY closer than hydrogen.

RE: I have to chuckle...
By mars2k on 9/16/2009 10:24:48 AM , Rating: 2
Well it just so happens part of the Honda program in CA is getting a Hydrogen producing system for your home. It splits Hydrogen out of Methane and you refuel at home. Yes I know it produces CO2 but the rational is that the system overall releases less CO2 than internal combustion engines on their own. Plus methane is sourced locally.

There are other H2 production systems out there. The CA H2 infrastructure effort uses electricl powered hydrolysis. The fueling stations are actually producing H2 onsite using PhotoVoltaic arrays.

The same company that makes the H2 genrators make home sized units about as big as a washing machine. Interesting stuff really.

RE: I have to chuckle...
By Spuke on 9/16/2009 1:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
Well it just so happens part of the Honda program in CA is getting a Hydrogen producing system for your home.
How much do these stations cost?

RE: I have to chuckle...
By drmo on 9/16/2009 10:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
The solar one from CSIRO is supposed to be about $500 (eventially, whatever that means):
I seriously doubt that price is anywhere close to what it will really be.

The one from Honda can power your entire home from NG, but would run around $4000, hopefully.

I doubt somewhat that estimate on price (I only found the $4000 one place), but whatever; I don't think there are reliable prices out there yet.

If you can power your whole home and car from NG converted to hydrogen, then energy costs would run about 50% as that on gas and grid electricity (based on what Honda claims).

RE: I have to chuckle...
By Spuke on 9/17/2009 1:24:53 PM , Rating: 2
If you can power your whole home and car from NG converted to hydrogen
$4000 to power the entire home? That's pretty cheap compared to solar. I wonder how much NG a typical home would use. Thanks much for the info though.

RE: I have to chuckle...
By tapa on 9/18/2009 9:51:01 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think that's accurate. The home fuel station is an R&D project as far as I know. You can't get it for your home in California or anywhere else. Besides, it would have to be intended in the design of the home.

And it's useful to remember that there's enough hydrogen made in the US to fuel all the cars already. Trouble is, it's being used to produce gasoline. Naturally, it costs much lower than gas at the point of production. The only thing we don't have is the distribution system and affordable hydrogen vehicles.

These things can be solved.

RE: I have to chuckle...
By namechamps on 9/21/2009 9:22:06 AM , Rating: 2
Wonder what the cost to add limited H2 fueling to an existing gas station.

$10K? $100K?

If it is manageable then it may be upon the car companies to provide interest free loans, and partial grants for the first x number stations in the area. If the govt provided matching funds it could be enough to get the ball rolling.

I have 80 gas stations in my area. I don't need that many H2 stations. Just one near my work or home would be enough to start.

So initially the goal shouldn't be a H2 station on every corner but rather 10 stations or so per city in the 100 largest markets. That is 1000 stations which should be manageable if the car companies work together.

RE: I have to chuckle...
By Spivonious on 9/16/2009 10:01:15 AM , Rating: 1
But isn't the point of all of this to get us off of using up nonrenewable resources? Natural gas would only be short term solution.

RE: I have to chuckle...
By JediJeb on 9/17/2009 3:56:27 PM , Rating: 2
Actually Natural Gas ( Methane ) is not non-renewable. Methane is generated as a pollutant from most decaying waste. Sewage treatment plants, waste storage silos at places like poultry processing plants, manure from dairy and hog operations, grass clippings, and many more waste streams from our everyday lives produce methane that is essentially wasted.

I saw one project where a dairy farm placed all of its manure into a large pit covered with what was essentially a tent, then piped the methane produced from it to power a portable generator that powered the lights in the barn. Methane converted to carbon dioxide converted to plant material converted to manure converted back to methane. That would be completely recycled carbon leading to power with no net carbon emissions. Biological processes are much more efficient at converting the forms of carbon, so let nature do the work between burning and reproducing the methane.

RE: I have to chuckle...
By cornelius785 on 9/16/2009 11:59:33 AM , Rating: 2
I never thought of the CNG distribution system, but I'm not sure if you could use for hydrogen assuming I'm reading this right. I doubt you could switch over furnaces, boilers, stovers, ovens, control and distribution equipment, etc. from CNG to hydrogen and expect them to work. I'd probably have to be a second pipe being put down and support stuffs. A piped delivery system seems like a pretty good idea. I'm not too excited in seeing large hyrdogen delivery tank trucks rolling around and at the distribution center generation is even less appealing to me.

I was really disappointed in the cutting of funds for hydrogen research by the government. I just don't see batteries, especially li-ION, being feasible on a large scale until a the always talked about break through happens.

How to generate hydrogen?
By cjc1103 on 9/16/2009 10:26:06 AM , Rating: 3
Before you even get to the problem of distributing hydrogen, you have to generate it. You can generate hydrogen by electrolysis, in which case the hydrogen effectively acts as a chemical battery, and releases the energy when burned in a conventional engine or used in a fuel cell. The best way would be to use solar cells, but there aren't cost effective, not to mention there's not enough of them available to produce enough hydrogen to completely replace gasoline. Nuclear power plants may the most efficient way to generate hydrogen, but there aren't enough of them either, so you end up burning coal to do this. No matter how you generate it, using hydrogen to store electrical energy is less efficient than using a battery. Currently the most economical method of producing hydrogen is to convert natural gas, which is a big waste. Burning the natural gas directly is a lot more efficient.

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By Xavi3n on 9/16/2009 10:38:03 AM , Rating: 2
But, as with all young technologies, I'm sure that the process would become a lot more efficient as it becomes more popular.

Its very much a long term plan, where-as Gas, by its nature, is a very short term plan.

We should start the process and let Capitalism do what it does best.

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By cyclosarin on 9/16/2009 11:26:56 AM , Rating: 3
The best way to produce hydrogen is with thermo-chemical seperation using VHTRs. Produce electricity at peak and H2 any other time. Use the MSR design with a thorium fuel cycle.

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By drmo on 9/16/2009 11:56:13 AM , Rating: 2
"Burning the natural gas directly is a lot more efficient. "

Actually, it depends on how you burn natural gas on how efficient it is (in energy terms). In an ICE, the best efficiencies are around 30%, but a fuel cell can be 40-60% efficient. In a power plant, the efficiencies for both are greater though.

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By ArcliteHawaii on 9/16/2009 8:41:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, combined cycle natural gas turbines can be up to 89% efficient. Of course, then you have to send the electricity along a wire. Average losses in the US are about 7%, which isn't too bad.

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By drmo on 9/16/2009 10:12:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, NG is great in power plants, but less efficient in ICEs. So fuel cells may make more sense for cars. They are also useful as storage for energy collected from solar or wind.

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By ArcliteHawaii on 9/17/2009 5:53:27 AM , Rating: 2
So is ammonia (NH3).

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By drmo on 9/17/2009 9:08:28 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, ammonia is a good way of storing energy/ hydrogen.

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By FishTankX on 9/18/2009 3:01:37 AM , Rating: 2
I call BS.

That exceeds carnot efficency.

According to this source

CCGT plants are projected to hit 62% in 2030

RE: How to generate hydrogen?
By ArcliteHawaii on 9/18/2009 4:48:29 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, yeah, I read that a couple of years ago, and now I can't find the source. But I think you're right. The efficiency is only about 60% according several different sources.

Hybrid vehicle
By MergMan on 9/16/2009 1:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
What if you could use an engine that runs on palm oil, vegetable oil, or other non-fossil fuels?

RE: Hybrid vehicle
By chunkymonster on 9/16/2009 2:01:31 PM , Rating: 2
You can use an engine that runs on vegetable oils. Diesel engines! Diesel engines can be (easily) modified to run on vegetable oil. Bio-diesel can be made out of soy, switchgrass, animal fat, cannabis, algae, and pretty much any other bio-mass. These bio-fuels can be used to run existing diesel engines without modification. Fact is, Rudolph Diesel made his engine to run on vegetable oil and ran his own diesel engine on peanut oil!

The answer to alternative fuel is (and has been) under our nose but bio-diesel and diesel engines are unpopular as well as there being no financial incentives, political motivation, or intestinal fortitude to make it happen.

When Ford advertises a diesel Fiesta that gets 60+mpg and then claims that there is no market for them in America and can only sell them in Eurpoe; what does that tell you? When VW shows a prototype diesel-electric hybrid that gets over 90mpg and there is no market for them in America; what does that tell you? When every non-American auto maker jumps on the hybrid bandwagon years before any American car company; what does that tell you. When our tax dollars are wasted to keep car companies alive; what does that tell you?

With the existing infrastructure and the proper incentives, America could lead the world in bio-diesel technology.

Electric vehicles will prove to be a costly alternative as well as a long term failure. The only way electric vehicles will be successful is if they are mandated by the government and kept alive by our tax dollars.

RE: Hybrid vehicle
By ArcliteHawaii on 9/16/2009 8:52:41 PM , Rating: 3
Scale is a huge issue "growing" fuel. The caloric output of all the food on the planet is only one sixth (~18%) of the world's daily consumption of oil, the vast majority of which is used in transportation. You'd still need to find a source of fuel to replace the remaining 82% of oil, even if you starved everyone.

just pr
By zephyrprime on 9/16/2009 3:29:17 PM , Rating: 2
There simply isn't any good way to store hydrogen and onboard reforming is a joke. Maybe carbon nanotubes will do the job but they're not working so good yet. Electric is costly and heavy but it is not so bad that a few improvements won't do the job. As designers gain experience with EV, chassis's will drop some weight. That'll save a few hundred pounds right there. And better battery chemistries will also help.

RE: just pr
By drmo on 9/16/2009 3:48:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think the main problem with EVs is charge time. Okay for short trips, but bad for long ones. If you could charge them in 5 minutes, then that would change everything.

RE: just pr
By andrinoaa on 9/16/2009 5:41:50 PM , Rating: 1
I think you are missing the point by a country mile. No one says they are perfect for every situation, just like a honda FIT, it has its place. Sure, 5min charge time is desirable but isn't quite possible now but that doesn't mean it isn't useable. 5min charge time isn't the main problem with people who want this type of vehicle. Other factors are more of an issue. Cost, availability and infrustructure are way way more of a problem.

RE: just pr
By drmo on 9/16/2009 10:28:32 PM , Rating: 2
No, I get the point. I don't think I even hinted that EVs don't have a place; it is just limited. Just like hydrogen fuel cells will be limited. But the fuel cell problem can be solved by increasing the infrastructure. The EV problem can also be solved by increasing the infrastructure for charging, if the charge time can be reduced.

But I think the point Toyota was making is that fuel cells are cheaper, and you can use them for all of your needs; the Honda FCX Clarity already gets a 240 mile range, so the technology for the cars is pretty much there. I think that unless the oil companies decide they are going to support the technology by installing hydrogen fueling stations, the hydrogen fuel cells will never really take off.

Also, Honda wants to sell a NG reformer for people's homes, that converts NG to hydrogen, which can be used to power the home and fill the car, at approximately 50% of the annual energy costs of being on the grid and using gas. The reformer would cost around $4,000, hopefully. That could pay for itself in 3 years, based on energy savings (if NG remains cheap).

Infrastructure and distribution
By gstrickler on 9/16/2009 12:16:07 PM , Rating: 1
Hydrogen has significant costs for production, distribution, and storage. For storage, the weight of the container is significantly greater than that of the hydrogen it contains. That weight has to be part of the vehicle, which decreases efficiency. Batteries have the same weight issues. Either one requires very large investments in infrastructure.

I suspect that for a similar amount of investment, we could electrify the roadway in some fashion and have cars powered by the roadway. The cars could have a much smaller battery (much like the present hybrids, and lower weight than either a pure EV or hybrid, and probably lower than regular gas or diesel vehicle.

Distribution of electricity is relatively efficient, the vehicles would be lighter and more efficient, and the power can come from a variety of sources, including wind, hydro, geo-thermal, solar, nuclear, and fossil fuels.

RE: Infrastructure and distribution
By mindless1 on 9/16/2009 2:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
I've been thinking the same thing about roads with embedded power rails but there might be a couple of problems.

1) The voltage needs be low enough to be safe to living creatures.

2) Voltage that low may be lossy.

By gstrickler on 9/16/2009 3:00:54 PM , Rating: 2
Low voltage is not necessarily a requirement, although practical contact based systems are likely to be < 1KV. "Third rail" systems are widely deployed, including some "in the open" that have guards around just the power rail. Overhead power wires are also widely deployed. The trick there is to run high voltage for the distribution, then use transformers at regular intervals to bring it down to lower voltage. Keep you segments small, and you can keep the current and associated losses in check. It may require more transformers, but they're smaller units, and it simplifies a number of issues.

However, there are also non-contact systems such as linear motors. According to some sites I just googled, 50% efficiency is easy in small scale systems, and up to 85% in larger scale systems. 85% efficiency is far better than any of the alternative proposals. Even allowing for 5%+ loss in the distribution grid, you should be able to achieve 70%+ net efficiency from point of electricity generation to vehicle propulsion. That's pretty good net efficiency, on par with what you can get out of a plug-in hybrid.

There are a number of additional benefits in traffic flow, roadway capacity, etc. that become possible with some of those systems.

Honda is way ahead on this already
By wannabemedontu on 9/16/2009 10:27:27 AM , Rating: 2
Well its not like Toyota is pioneering this field. Honda already has several hundred real Accord sized family sedans leased to families in California for testing. They are ahead of everyone as far as having a viable "real" car for release anytime soon. And I agree with other posters about infrastucture, natural gas is already everywhere, homes, apartments, parking garages, office complexes. It would just need a little tweaking, not building from the ground up. Even if Honda doesn't move forward the infrastructure is already in place.

RE: Honda is way ahead on this already
By drmo on 9/16/2009 11:17:55 AM , Rating: 2
Because most hydrogen produced today comes from natural gas, the widespread distribution of NG means that gas stations could have mini-reformers to produce hydrogen from NG. The waste CO2 produced could be stored and sequestered later.

One of the benefits of fuel cells, is that they can be much more efficient than a combustion engine, so even though you lose energy in conversion of NG to hydrogen (80% efficiency), you can make up for that when you use the fuel cell (40-60% efficient) rather than an ICE (30%).

Screw Hydrogen
By lco45 on 9/16/2009 8:07:46 PM , Rating: 2
I hate having to go to a service station, and I hate it when the price of fuel jumps on a Saturday morning to catch everyone going away for the weekend.

I want electric so I can buy my fuel at a constant price, or even have the freedom to generate my own fuel. I would pay the premium for some solar panels on my roof just so I didn't have to give the oil companies a dime, the greedy f**kers...


RE: Screw Hydrogen
By drmo on 9/17/2009 9:02:36 AM , Rating: 2
You can also produce hydrogen by yourself (solar), or produce it at more constant price at home (natural gas conversion). Oh, and you can go much further (250+ miles) per refill.

Ammonia fuel cells & micro-turbines
By 2tweeked on 9/17/2009 12:41:31 AM , Rating: 1
The technology is there but lacks serious application. Why? Oil companies. The Ammonia possibility has the hydrogen punch for fuel cells. Let that be the focus meanwhile micro-turbines can be a replacement for the assist battery recharge piston engine. Not all needs to be bleak. The oil monopolies are resisting change and the auto manufactures are meeting green resistance from them. We can stand together and say no to routine business as usual. Our collective brain power can brake the chains that enslave us. New technology application means new opportunity and investment. Yes to change means new profits and a cleaner planet.

RE: Ammonia fuel cells & micro-turbines
By 2tweeked on 9/17/2009 1:05:52 AM , Rating: 2
I want to add that my Japanese & Chinese brothers & sisters are not clouded by our American current cultural mind limitations. Face the facts, American education and innovation is in a mental depression by design at this point in history. America has been "dumbed" down. I want to see humanity as a whole to awaken. To put aside national grievances and achieve our human potential in totality. Greed and profit are not the answer. Yes, let us respect our individual states and sovereignty spheres of management but as a group of humanity, explore and solve in peace and prosperity for all. Thank you!

By 2tweeked on 9/17/2009 2:06:22 AM , Rating: 1
Forgive me readers, but I am very passionate on this issue of individual transportation. Perhaps we should consider something different and more efficient. I deeply enjoy individual transportation but if there is a technological solution I am equally to adapt. Suppose there is a public transportation solution to the individual need to transportation.

What if we could concentrate on personal rapid transit? It would be like a personal taxi cab. You would simply designate destination and it would take you there without unruly passengers. PRT could be programmed not to let felons to travel into your neighborhood. In disaster scenarios, PRTs can be programmed to take you to safe areas. PRTs can make your morning commute a non stressful event because the system would know where you need to be. Your children can go to events and you would know where they are. Cargo & mail are always tracked to destination. Its about individual travel without the hassle of owning a vehicle. Its energy wise, productive and beneficial to the environment.


Perhaps we wouldn't need a rail type system but another intelligent packet type vehicle that is street inductor powered and guided. The options our endless to our imaginations. It is a question of will and application. Explore the vision is all I ask.

$$ per wat
By gamerk2 on 9/17/2009 8:27:55 AM , Rating: 2
The key question is how much it will cost you to recharge you're vehicle each night. Throw in our decripied (and already overstrained) electric grid, and I can't see electrc as a solution.

Hydrogren makes the most sense, but requires a whole new infrastructure. I'd go with hydrogen fuel cells; they got us to the moon without a hitch, the tech is ready, and costs are reasonable.

RE: $$ per wat
By andrinoaa on 9/18/2009 10:59:26 AM , Rating: 2
Yes but, out there, you can't find a gas station or power point. GM invested a few billion dollars in fuel cells. Why have we not heard anything about them for a while? Me thinks they could see the obstacles were way way over their heads. The combustion process was the easy part. The infrustructure is mind bogglingly expensive. ( I can see a movie "who killed the hydrogen car?" ) Electric cars are relativley cheap compared to hydrogen powered cars. At least we will get them for reasonable money. How much do hydrogen cars cost? I seem to remember in the millions! Which is cheaper the grid fix or hydrogen storage and distribution? Remember that the grid has to be fixed within the next 5-10yrs IN ANY CASE. Your country is reluctant to fix the grid, imagine the inertia that has to be overcome to get hydrogen distribution up and running? Its too big to afford in the short term so it has to be a long term thing. In the mean time electric cars are about to explode onto the market. Gamerk2, you want to have another think.
Don't get me wrong, hydrogen as a fuel is a magic element BUT we have lower fruit to pick before we get so desperate we go to hydrogen.

By amanojaku on 9/16/2009 9:57:00 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a naughty trip to Thailand or Bhudapest.

By btc909 on 9/16/2009 12:26:38 PM , Rating: 2
Quoting the blog:
And in Japan, Nissan is gearing up to debut the electric-only 2011 Leaf EV. All of these companies' electric efforts are driven by lithium-ion batteries, and these batteries are going in their hybrids as well.
With the Nissan Leaf you will end up paying for the equivalent cost of "gas" anyways. The per Kw cost of electricity plus the what wasn't mentioned in this Blog the lease cost of the lithium ion batteries. Paying for the electricity is fine, but that plus a lease cost of the batteries isn't a savings. Once I heard of the "battery lease cost" I was no longer interested in this vehicle.

Now I can't say if the Volt will have a battery lease cost (this could be the dirty unspoken secret soon to come) but I know the Leaf will.

Regarding Lithium Ion batteries in laptops - notebooks - etc. I haven't seen a major price drop ever since manufactures switched from NiMH to Lithium ION. The only cost savings I’ve even seen is downsizing to a 3 or 4 cell battery.

Regarding another posted about the Hydrogen Equinox, I didn't care. Why, GM is more than capable of developing new technologies but GM is very incapable of bringing these technologies to the market. On Star is the only now typical technology that I'm see GM bring to the market in years. You could say it's because GM is in bed with the oil companies, whatever the reason is the developed technology isn't here. Develop it, shelve it & let other companies bring the technology to the market.

Li-ion Technology is Not Frozen
By KGBird on 9/16/2009 3:58:33 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone is acting like no advances will be made with Li-ion batteries. I'm particularly surprised at Toyota's attitude. Things that can lower Li-ion costs: 1. Improved cathodes like lithium-iron-phosphate. Cobalt is one of the most costly elements in Li-ion. LiFePO4 eliminates the cobalt and lowers the cost. 2. Improved anodes. Tons of research is going on to increase anode capacity with carbon nanotubes, tin nanoparticles, and silicon nanoparticles. If your battery has a higher capacity, you will need less cells. That will lower your cost too.

Toyota plain wrong
By andrinoaa on 9/16/2009 5:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
Heres another thing to think about. What will be cheaper to do, refurbish all gas stations for hydrogen or upgrade the
electric grid with renewables? I'd say the grid is going to be high on the agenda in the near future in which case hydrogen gets lower on the agenda.
Toyota stuck its neck out with the Prius 10yrs ago and is getting some reward now, but I think that they have gone to sulk in the corner because some amazing economy is coming out of European studios just with deisel engines. I think GM of all the car manufacturers has come up with the right idea, how its implemented is yet to be seen. But even if they stuff up the Volt, others are already seeing the potential.

By lco45 on 9/16/2009 7:40:59 PM , Rating: 2
They are just pushing the cost onto us.

There are two choices:
1. Cheap cars with expensive fuel (hydrogen).
2. Expensive cars with cheap fuel (electric).

Given that Toyota is in the business of selling cars, not fuel, I'd say they are biased towards cheap cars.


NiMh really cheaper than Lithium?
By blowfish on 9/16/2009 7:41:44 PM , Rating: 2
If you've seen the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" you may already know that Texaco bought out Ovonics, the makers and patent holders of NiMh batteries, and made large NiMh batteries unavailable to people wishing to convert gas cars to electric. To this day, you can't buy anything bigger than C or D cell NiMh batteries, and for people doing their own conversions, it's actually cheaper to go for Li-Ion or Li-Poly, since the oil companies don't hold all the patents. Maybe it's different for companies like Toyota.

If people stopped looking at battery electric cars as a means of replacing existing vehicles, however, but instead considered them simply for short commutes, there would actually be no problem running them off common or garden cheap lead acid batteries. If your commute is only a few miles, why would you need a 100+ mile range - especially if you can plug your EV in to charge while you're at work.

Then at the weekend, you can get out the truck, tow that boat and do all the other fun stuff, and enjoy the best of both worlds.

It's already happening in London, in a small way. Quite a few people drive tiny lead acid Gee Wiz EV's, which are actually made here in the US. They're encouraged to use them by parking benefits and exemptions from congestion charging. It's high time some US cities followed suit.

By nofumble62 on 9/17/2009 2:23:04 AM , Rating: 2
is just the size of the battery, and about $20K.

Why does Toyota pour money into battery research to help GM, and drive the battery demand (therefore) cost for their vehicle?

GM has flunk on EV-1, they will fail again on EV-2.

EV cars
By Kyanzes on 9/20/2009 1:07:01 PM , Rating: 2
EV cars will quickly become popular once the prospectors have found the first battery fields. Until then...

Not only too expensive....
By safcman84 on 9/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: Not only too expensive....
By MrTeal on 9/16/2009 10:11:38 AM , Rating: 5
Lithium is a heavy metal? Have you looked at a periodic table lately?

RE: Not only too expensive....
By OrSin on 9/16/2009 12:30:01 PM , Rating: 1
Have you? Lithium is the lightest of all metals. So its a metal but not a heavy metal.

RE: Not only too expensive....
By gstrickler on 9/16/2009 12:01:43 PM , Rating: 3
I think what you intended to say is that lithium is a highly reactive metal, which makes handling and disposal an issue. That reactivity, it's small size, and low weight are major reasons it's so useful in batteries. It's most definitely not a heavy metal.

The supply of lithium is likely to be an issue for mass EV deployment. While it's predicted that there is sufficient lithium reserves, we're only mining it at a rate that will allow replacing about 1.6% of the new vehicles each year. Even doing .5%-1% of new vehicles would severely strain existing lithium mining capacity because the existing supply is already being used. We would need about a 50% increase in lithium mining output just to produce batteries for 500k EVs per year.

Constrained supplies mean higher costs for batteries, not only for the cars, but for your laptop, cell phone, etc. and for any other lithium based products.

BTW, those lithium reserves are mostly located outside the US, so we would be dependent upon foreign sources. The good news is that depleted batteries can be recycled and the lithium recovered from them, so it's not a continual dependence on foreign sources.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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