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These subsidies mean that consumers pay around 5 million yen for Toyota's fuel-cell sedan

Japan is getting serious about fuel cell vehicles by way of subsidies, according to a new report from Reuters

After test driving fuel cell vehicles last week at a hydrogen station, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the media that Japan will offer 2 million yen ($19,700 USD) in subsidies for fuel cell vehicles. 

"This is the car of a new era because it doesn't emit any carbon dioxide and it's environmentally friendly," said Abe. "The government needs to support this."

These subsidies mean that consumers pay around 5 million yen for Toyota's fuel-cell sedan, which is priced at about 7 million yen. It's expected to go on sale by the end of March 2015.

Toyota showed off its first production hydrogen fuel cell sedan last month, which is based on the FCV concept.  

While Toyota hasn’t revealed specs for the production model yet, the FCV concept featured a lightweight fuel cell stack (with a power output density of 3 kW/l), two 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen tanks, and total output of over 100 kW to power the vehicle. 


Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell car

Toyota isn't alone in the quest for hydrogen fuel cell cars. In July 2013, General Motors (GM) and Honda announced that they'd team up for fuel cell vehicle technology as well. They hope to commercialize the technology by 2020. 

But not everyone in the auto industry is onboard. In fact, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said hydrogen fuel cell cars were "bullshit" last October. Obviously, Musk is more about EVs like his company's all-electric Model S and upcoming Model X SUV

“And then they’ll say certain technologies like fuel cell … oh god … fuel cell is so bullshit. Except in a rocket," said Musk. 

Toyota argues, however, that EVs need at least two major breakthroughs before they can replace gasoline or hybrid vehicles. 
 
"The reason why Toyota doesn’t introduce any major [all-electric product] is because we do not believe there is a market to accept it,” said Uchiyamada. "I personally expect a lot from this hydrogen fuel cell technology. If government and industry work together, this might be part of the long-term solution."

Source: Reuters



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Oh the humanity!
By Nortel on 7/23/2014 7:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
Natural gas is the most viable 'gas' solution. Filling a tank can be handled at home, infrastructure already exists and it's cheap!




RE: Oh the humanity!
By geddarkstorm on 7/23/2014 7:38:01 PM , Rating: 1
But think of all that carbon! CARBON! <insert spooky hand motions>


RE: Oh the humanity!
By Mint on 7/23/2014 8:15:31 PM , Rating: 2
In case you didn't know, the vast majority of hydrogen today is produced using SMR (steam methane reforming) because it's by far the cheapest. Moreover, they currently use more CO2 to produce 1kg of H2 (approximately one gallon gasoline equivalent) than a gallon of gasoline.

So even the carbon argument for H2 is sketchy.


RE: Oh the humanity!
By Nightbird321 on 7/23/2014 8:44:17 PM , Rating: 2
Still a little different, fossil fuels are cheap now but there's no harm in developing a completely renewable alternative to have around when we really need it. Just be glad the US taxpayers don't need to fund this R&D this time, though obvious if Japan's bet pays off their economy will reap the benefits.


RE: Oh the humanity!
By wordsworm on 7/23/2014 11:46:23 PM , Rating: 2
There's another angle that seems to be missed by everyone: China controls the rare earths market. I don't think Japan wants to rely on China.


RE: Oh the humanity!
By coburn_c on 7/24/14, Rating: -1
RE: Oh the humanity!
By wordsworm on 7/24/2014 12:36:03 PM , Rating: 1
Japan mines titanium needed for fuel cells. China mines rare earths for the batteries that go in EV.

Chinese people are not brown. Are you confusing Africa and China?


RE: Oh the humanity!
By Mint on 7/24/2014 1:34:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Just be glad the US taxpayers don't need to fund this R&D this time
There's certainly federal R&D that has been spent on fuel cells, and there's nothing wrong with that.

But when it comes to infrastructure, Toyota isn't building it themselves like Tesla did. They're getting California to pony up $200M for 100 H2 stations:
http://www.torquenews.com/1083/toyota-california-a...


RE: Oh the humanity!
By Flunk on 7/23/2014 10:05:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and no, the CO2 created during the steam methane reforming process can be captured and sequestered fairly easily so it doesn't have to end up in the atmosphere.


RE: Oh the humanity!
By Mint on 7/24/2014 1:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see how CO2 from SMR is so much easier to sequester than CO2 from CCGT. In any case, sequestration adds cost to everything and is almost nonexistent.


RE: Oh the humanity!
By marvdmartian on 7/24/2014 7:51:51 AM , Rating: 2
And here in the USA, it's plentiful. Maybe not so much in Japan, where they historically have had to import most of their energy-producing fuels.

Japan is already looking at restarting their nuclear power plants, after some major inspections and retrofitting of support systems (to prevent another Fukushima). Likely because after the initial reactionary closing of the plants, they realized how much it was going to dent their economy to shutter the plants permanently.

If they have an excess of nuclear generated electricity, they could utilize it to crack seawater into O2 and H2, then use the H2 to power the cars.


RE: Oh the humanity!
By kattanna on 7/24/2014 11:39:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If they have an excess of nuclear generated electricity, they could utilize it to crack seawater into O2 and H2, then use the H2 to power the cars.


and here in CA we could use modern high temp reactors to produce power and desalinate sea water to end our drought

but thats too much forward thinking and the environmentalists will have NONE of that


looks like a protectionist tactic
By grant3 on 7/23/2014 8:07:44 PM , Rating: 3
EV development & production is far ahead of H2 production, and once a particular technology becomes most popular it might never get displaced.

The japanese gov't sees the potential for its domestic car industry to have its lunch eaten by Tesla + copycats. no wonder they are offering 2x the subsidy for H2 over EV.




RE: looks like a protectionist tactic
By Qapa on 7/24/2014 6:43:42 AM , Rating: 2
So, offer $20k or €20k and I'm sure that EVs would be flying of the shelves.. (err.. driving.. of the stands :P).

I bet that would happen in most countries.

I would even bet you'd get people buying to sell them the next day on the country right next to it ;) with a 5k-10k profit.

Unfortunately this isn't a reality here.

I agree, that this only seems to make sense to protect their industries. :(

But maybe we will have a mix of fuel cell plug in cars in the future, to allow range independence if we don't get major improvements to batteries that allow 500 miles with 30 minutes (for 400km) fast charging.


RE: looks like a protectionist tactic
By Griffinhart on 7/24/2014 10:38:57 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
EV development & production is far ahead of H2 production, and once a particular technology becomes most popular it might never get displaced.


Fuel Cell cars are EV technology. They are both electric vehicles. The difference is in the fuel storage and delivery. One uses batteries, one uses a fuel cell.

Battery development and production isn't far ahead of Hydrogen production. Hydrogen production is well understood and used. Currently the cheapest way to produce it from steam reformation, but there are plenty of other ways. High temperature Electrolysis can generate Hydrogen from water using industrial waste heat, Nuclear and even Concentrated Solar. There are several other ways to generate hydrogen as well. This is stuff we can do today.


RE: looks like a protectionist tactic
By Mint on 7/24/2014 10:57:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Battery development and production isn't far ahead of Hydrogen production.
You can't drive a FCEV on hydrogen alone. You need a fuel cell to convert it to electricity.

That's where EVs/PHEVs are way ahead. A 20kWh battery can easily give you 200kW of power for 10s, and now costs around $5k. Getting half of that power from a fuel cell costs over 10x as much.

Best case for a fuel cell is as a range extender for an EV, but what's the point? Just use a small gas engine for those 10% of your miles. Maybe in 2050 we'll have to worry about that last 10%.


By grant3 on 7/24/2014 12:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
Battery powered vehicles are much more advanced in development & production.

H2 vehicles may be better for society, or it may just be another corn-produced ethanol debacle. I guess we'll see.

When the japanese gov't is shoveling big $$ at the latecomer technology which is being primarily pushed by japanese manufacturers, it would be naive to pretend it's not politics driving the decision.


RE: looks like a protectionist tactic
By rdhood on 7/24/2014 2:50:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
EV development & production is far ahead of H2 production, and once a particular technology becomes most popular it might never get displaced.


My current 35mpg car has a cruising range of over 600 miles.
EVs aren't even close to that. This argument is like the stupid "BluRay will go away in favor of streaming" argument... which completely ignores the fact that about half the country can't stream worth a damn.

For EV's to become "the standard", they need a MINIMUM cruising range of 300 miles. PERIOD. Otherwise, they are merely electrical toys for the half of the country that does not live and stay 100% in an urban environment.

For EV's to become the standard, they need to refill in under 10 minutes. PERIOD. Otherwise, they are merely electrical toys for half the country that does not live and work 100% in an urban environment. The BEST current technology currently recharges a Tesla at about 58miles/hour-of-charge. The TYPICAL charge is between 8 and 20 hours. That is completely unacceptable to a majority of drivers.

Peer into your crystal ball ... when do you see both of the above two requirements being met? THAT is when battery powered EV's will be widely accepted. Personally, I don't see this happening in the next 5 years... maybe not 10 years.. maybe not ever! I think perhaps that the Japanese have peered into their crystal ball and realize this.

FURTHER: the U.S. isn't the only market in the world. Auto makers make cars for ALL of the world. The third world has really sketchy electrical reliability. Heck, even U.S. infrastructure is not ready to recharge 100 million cars every night. Thus, the future of EV's is dim for every country without a first rate electrical grid with some heavy-duty power generation capability. And that is MOST of the world. The REST of the world requires a different option.


RE: looks like a protectionist tactic
By Mint on 7/24/2014 8:07:41 PM , Rating: 2
Have you not heard of PHEV or EREV?

30-100 miles EV range (depending on battery size), the rest via a small gasoline engine-generator. Charge the battery at night, i.e. 5 seconds of your time. Most of your mileage will be on electricity.

One example is the BMW i3 REx, but we'll eventually see EREVs that aren't weird looking, and without the BMW premium.


By Rukkian on 7/25/2014 5:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
How many people do you think go more than 200 miles in one shot. While you may do that every single day, most do not.

I agree both of those items you said (distance, charging times) are critical pieces, I think you would be surprised if an affordable, good looking, non-econbox ev came out with 200+ mile actual range. We are still a few years out, but at that point, it would cover probably 80% of all drivers in the country. This does not mean 80% will buy them, but even if it cracks 10%, it is a good way to cut some pollution in urban areas, and potentially keep fuel prices in check for awhile.

Another big use for them is as a second car in a multi-car family. In my family, my car gets used ~20k/year and gets used on ALL long trips (anything over 30 miles typically). My wife's car stays in town normally, and rarely goes more than 30 miles in a day. An EV would be perfect for that case, and I think that many families would have a use for one as well.

As for charging time, I know plenty of people that will drive 10 minutes to save $0.05/gal on gas, and will sit in a line for 2 hours for free gas. If those people could get free tank refills in 30min (superchargers) they would be all over it. Add to that the option to charge overnight cheaply, and you could have a winner.

I think everybody knows there is a ways to go as far as EV's go, but for most people that do not have their head stuck in the sand saying change is bad, change is bad, change is bad can see there they have their uses with just a little bit of advancement. Right now they do not make sense for a good portion of the population due to the range of the current ones that are in a price range most would be willing to pay.


By flyingpants1 on 7/26/2014 7:04:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:

For EV's to become "the standard", they need a MINIMUM cruising range of 300 miles. PERIOD. Otherwise, they are merely electrical toys for the half of the country that does not live and stay 100% in an urban environment.

For EV's to become the standard, they need to refill in under 10 minutes. PERIOD. Otherwise, they are merely electrical toys for half the country that does not live and work 100% in an urban environment. The BEST current technology currently recharges a Tesla at about 58miles/hour-of-charge. The TYPICAL charge is between 8 and 20 hours. That is completely unacceptable to a majority of drivers.


Here's what you people aren't getting: It's 2014. There are no EVs around yet. By the time there are even enough EVs built to address even 1% of the market, let alone "become the standard", these issues will be mostly solved.

The new Roadster battery goes 400 miles. A Model S 110kWh would go 340 miles.

A 25% battery capacity increase every 3-4 years is great. The larger the battery, the more non-stop trips you can cover. Also, the larger the battery, the shorter the supercharging time.

By 2020, 400-mile batteries may be commonplace.

There is no way for EVs to "become standard" before then, because the battery factories haven't been built. The cars haven't been built.

I repeat: By the time EVs even EXIST in large numbers, these issues will mostly be solved.


By Mint on 7/23/2014 7:37:50 PM , Rating: 2
Consider $500/kW fuel cells. For $15,000 plus the price of H2 tanks, you get 30kW to power an electric motor. So basically it'll let you build a crappier Prius without an ICE for $40-50k. Yay.

But put $500/kW fuel cells in a power plant, and you have a peaker that's cheaper than gas turbines. You can even generate the H2 with solar panels instead of using methane reforming, making it fully green and having no NIMBY problems (it can be right in the middle of a city). That's a product with at least a $100B market.




By titanmiller on 7/24/2014 1:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
30kW is enough power to sustain highway speeds. A small 5kWh battery could handle acceleration, hills, and regenerative braking. The fuel cell just has to produce the average energy consumption to keep the battery at a good SOC.


By Keeir on 7/24/2014 3:46:01 PM , Rating: 2
The issue with that type of approach is two-fold

#1. The size of the battery will limit the cars ability to handle certain situations.

#2. The size of the battery will determine the number of cycles and the replacement frequency of the battery.

For example, lets say the fuel cell is designed to run between 15 kW and 30 kW of output. Every power demand above 30 kWh will start to put load on the battery. A "5kWh" battery is probably good to be charged and discharged many hundreds of times. Lets say ~5,000 kWh of supply before significant degration. (more than 1,000 charge discharge cycles, pretty standard for lithium type) Typical cars are getting around 5 miles per kWh, so lets say about 1/3 of the power has to be stored then output by the battery, so 15 miles per kWh. This suggests the battery will need replaced at 75,000-100,000.

Not acceptable. Is it better to have the battery at 7 kWh capacity or increase the output kW of the fuel cell so less power needs to taken from the battery?

This is some of the reason the Volt has such poor fuel economy performance. GM made the choice to be very protective of the battery post initial depletion. The gasoline generator is capable of producing 53 kW, even though the Volt only needs 18 kWh, flat highway, 60 mph.


By Mint on 7/24/2014 7:58:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, it is enough, but it's still worse than a Prius' engine.

And 5kWh isn't enough to give you much power. 5-10C discharge is the best you'll get without using lithium titanate (which is expensive), so that means 25-50kW additional power. That's not enough for a car with a $20k+ price premium and fuel that won't cost much less than gasoline (it's currently pricier).

That's why the fuel cell has to come down in price before it sells in a car. Get a 30kW cell down to $5k, the tanks and piping down to $1k, and maybe you'll sell 1/10th the volume of the Prius.

But <$200/kW is a long ways away for fuel cells, and if they do get near that price, every fuel cell made will be used in profitable power systems first.


Both are green and have pros and cons.
By Duke2014 on 7/24/2014 1:54:35 AM , Rating: 2
EV:
Pro: clean, zero emission.
Con: recharge takes several hours.

H fuel cell vehicles:
Pro: clean, very fast refuel.
Con: H can be dangerous, requires special process for storage.

Either way, your choice.




By Solandri on 7/24/2014 11:59:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
EV:
Pro: clean, zero emission.

Saying EVs have zero emissions is like saying gasoline cars have zero emissions (if you exclude the tailpipe).

The emissions from EVs is the emissions produced by generating the electricity it uses. Except for a few countries like France (77% nuclear), the vast majority of electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels. In most cases EVs are only at about half the amount of emissions of a gasoline car.

(Hydrogen is actually worse - its overall energy efficiency makes it about the same as gasoline cars in terms of emissions, only with all the added headaches of transporting and storing hydrogen. That's not to say these problems won't be overcome, but it's by no means a sure thing.)


complementary...
By zodiacfml on 7/24/2014 6:46:26 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think one is superior over the other and will exist with each other.
EV will be more popular in urban areas or low range use while the Hydro, a more expensive but more range solution.




Probably bull@#@$
By HoosierEngineer5 on 7/24/2014 7:40:24 AM , Rating: 2
The only reason I don't have a Tesla-class car is the price. If I could get one for $30k, I would be all over that (considering the reduced price of the energy).

This thing has no advantage over a Tesla, including price. I have to believe this is going nowhere, unless they can show a compelling cost curve.




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