2013 has been a monumental year for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. From Japanese automakers alone, we’ve had the three big names – Toyota, Nissan and Honda – all confirm that 2015 will be the year when we see the first FCVs. It was no surprise, then, when we saw hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles showcased at both the LA and Tokyo Motor Shows last month.
Even more unsurprisingly, Toyota remains at the forefront of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle development. And, while there’s still a lot we don’t know about the upcoming hydrogen cars, the Japanese titan is constantly shedding new light on this elusive subject.
For reference, the image at the top of this post is the Toyota FCV Concept we saw last month. Toyota expects the car to launch for somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000, likely leaning heavily towards the latter. They’ve said that at least $50,000 of the car’s price will be put towards the manufacture of the hyper-advanced powertrain.
Despite the 2015 Toyota FCV’s high price tag, Toyota stated this week that they expect annual sales to fall somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 units in 2016 and beyond. The statement comes from an interview between Automotive News Europe and Soichiro Okudaira, Toyota’s chief officer of R&D.
In the interview, Okudaira elaborated that he believes hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles will become price competitive with other alternative zero-emissions vehicles (a.k.a. EVs) well before 2030. He said, “Beyond 2020 … Fuel cell cars will reconsider just one alternative of the eco-cars.” Accordingly, he claimed that Toyota expects sales of their FCV car(s) to increase exponentially in 2020 and beyond.
To say that the price of an entry-level FCV vehicle can fall from $100,000 to less than $20,000 in five years is certainly a bold claim to make. But, Toyota actually has the proof to back it up: If you look back to their 2007 demonstration vehicle, the powertrain cost 750,000 euros, or $1,030,800, to produce. In 2015, the same powertrain will only cost $50,000; that’s a 95% reduction over 8 years. If they could make a similar cost decrease happen between 2015 and 2020 , then a sub-$20,000 FCV around that time is feasible.
Of course, the first step is actually selling those hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. 5,000 to 10,000 units per year is a lofty goal when you consider that other manufacturers are setting their sights on 1,000 units per year and under. As they did with hybrids and the Prius, Toyota is looking to establish their hydrogen fuel-cell dominance early so they can reap the benefits for years to come. If history is any indication, selling tens of thousands of Toyota FCVs by 2020 is a very real possibility; especially if international governments cooperate in the introduction of hydrogen fueling stations.
Either way, it’s clear that Toyota is intent on making progress, and they’ve done a great job so far. The FCV Concept we saw in Tokyo looked great, and we’re sure that the new iterations we’ll undoubtedly see throughout 2014 will be even better. And, there’s at least one benefit of starting the car at ~$75,000 – there’s no way Toyota will release a bad-looking car at that price.leave a response, trackback from your own site