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Toyota Fine-S Concept hydrogen fuel cell vehicle

Toyota Highlander-based fuel cell vehicle
Toyota expects the market to be small, but avaialble

Toyota is moving forward despite the bad press and recalls and is looking to the future where it may be the first company to offer a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that is “affordable”. Toyota is targeting a price of $50,000 for its first retail hydrogen fuel vehicle. Bloomberg reports that the $50,000 figure reflects a 90% reduction in cost for hydrogen fuel cell technology since the mid-2000s.

The first hydrogen powered vehicle would be a sedan with a range equal to that of a gas-powered car. Toyota's Yashihiko Masuda, managing director for advanced automobiles said, "[The hydrogen vehicle would compare to gasoline vehicles] with some added cost."

Masuda said, "Our target is, we don’t lose money with introduction of the vehicle. Production cost should be covered within the price of the vehicle."

Toyota won't talk about how many of the vehicles it expects to sell. Masuda told
Bloomberg that the market would be small, but would have some support. The support would likely be mostly from local and state governments.

The biggest issue facing the adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles isn’t the cost of buying the vehicles. The big issue is the fact that there is little to no infrastructure to speak of across the country. Most hydrogen fuel station are located in California, and even within California, there are but a handful. Hydrogen also currently costs much more than gasoline.

One of the cost cutting methods that Toyota used to help bring down the price of hydrogen vehicles was to use less platinum on the fuel cell construction. The automaker will reduce the platinum used in fuel cells from about 1.06 ounces per vehicle to the area of 10 grams per vehicle. The price for platinum now is about $1,675 per ounce.

Toyota isn't the only company looking at hydrogen vehicles, GM already has hydrogen powered vehicles in use that are leased to retail customers in the Los Angeles area.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and we can have it forever. We need to wake up the federal government."

Before GM starts retail sales in California, the automaker wants at least 40 hydrogen fuel stations in the Southern California area -- currently there are ten. GM believes that 40 stations could support 15 million drivers in the region.


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the real issue
By shin0bi272 on 5/7/2010 12:14:22 PM , Rating: 2
they touched on this in the article but its bigger than what they made it out to be. The real issue is distribution. If you cant fuel your car anywhere but southern cauleefornea then only southern cauleeforneans will be able to buy these and they wont make a profit or break even on these vehicles. Without increasing the distribution network first hydrogen fuel cell car adoption will be VERY slow if it happens at all.

Think of it like airlines... if the only airplanes are in japan (since its a remote island with limited cash resources) and can only fly to taiwan and china before they run out of fuel but there arent any landing strips in taiwan or china or fuel to refuel the planes and the planes cost 5 million dollars and japan can only afford say 5 in their budget how many people are going to be able to afford to fly on that plane? Will those airlines ever break even? Will flight expand very quickly?

It can lead to a vicious circle where no one will make hydrogen cars because not enough people can buy them. Dont get me wrong I like the hydrogen fuel cell car idea for its ease of refueling, power, and range but without the ability to refuel the thing in my entire half of the country its sort of a paper launch to the rest of us.

Will we be driving hydrogen fuel cell cars in 10 years? not likely. 50 years? Probably, unless we find another technology that can surpass hydrogen in speed of distribution/adoption but that has yet to be found.

My question is how long till the federal government comes in and subsidizes the expansion of hydrogen refueling distribution locations?

RE: the real issue
By Mogounus on 5/7/2010 12:52:58 PM , Rating: 3
No, they did not touch on the "real" issue. That is; where do we get hydrogen from in the first place? Right now the main source of hydrogen is natural gas... makes it a lot less green all of a sudden. Although it can be obtained from electrolysis of water that process is expensive and as it already stands we do not have enough clean electricty to meet our current demands. In order for this to be at all feasable we would have to build so much power infrastructure that it would take 100 years before we can even get through all the litigation with the Green Nazis. The only benefit I see from this in the near future is that we would start building the infrastructure necessary for a hydrogen economy to take hold and then hopefully some time in the future once the power problem is solved (fusion once it's ready in 50 years maybe?) the transition will be a lot smoother. But as it stands right now it's just a cool concept with little practicality.

RE: the real issue
By The Raven on 5/7/2010 1:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, you're forgetting... hydrogen IS natural gas!

From Wikipedia:
Hydrogen gas is produced by some bacteria and algae and is a natural component of flatus, as is methane, itself a hydrogen source of increasing importance.

Yes I know. Immature.

RE: the real issue
By HotFoot on 5/7/2010 2:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
At first, I'm tempted to think that wind/solar (let's not talk about cost just yet) might be well put to work driving electrolysis units. The intermittent nature of the power supply wouldn't matter so much as it's all going into a form of battery - H2.

But that runs into problems. Wind/solar are inherently distributed. H2 is one of (or the?) worst gasses to transport by any means. This leaves us with the option of perhaps a home unit that would fill some kind of H2 cartridge and you could swap that into your vehicle.

I just don't see it as an economical solution, but it would have been nice to alleviate the wind/solar power supply inconsistency issue and make use of zero-emissions technology for the sake of clean air in our urban centres.

What I've just described really only amounts to batteries that use H2/fuel cells rather than something else that's probably better.

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