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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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Better than hybrids/EVs?
By ValorMorghulis on 5/7/2010 11:37:14 PM , Rating: 2
As with EVs, the electricity/hydrogen gas is produced elsewhere often times with fossil fuels (or nuclear or solar or whatever). The big question for me is which is more efficient and green, EVs or hydrogen cars?

Hopefully someone out there can enlighten me on efficiency, but I also wonder about manufacturing processes. There have been a number of reports on the use of rare earth metals in EVs and the damage processing and manufacturing the batteries does to the environment and the link to China where most rare earth metals are mined. Does manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells have any of the same risks? My (limited) knowledge says that the manufacturing of hydrogen fuel cells requires fewer rare and or dangerous materials which may in the long run give hydrogen vehicles a leg up over EVs even if their energy storage is equally efficient.




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