Posts Tagged ‘FCV’

Mazda & Toyota to Swap Green Technology, Including FCV

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, May 13th, 2015


As emissions regulations continue to tighten around the world, Toyota and Mazda are considering expanding their current partnership to include the sharing of more fuel-saving technology. Specifically, the new agreement would involve the sharing of Toyota’s fuel-cell technology. In a surprising turn of events, that could mean we will see a Mazda FCV even before we see one from Honda.

The news of this latest “competitive cooperation” in the auto industry comes from Nikkei. We already knew that Mazda was planning to manufacture a Toyota-badged version of their all-new Mazda2 hatch sometime towards the end of this year in exchange for Toyota’s hybrid technology. Now, as emissions regulations tighten up and development of green technology becomes subsequently more expensive, the two automakers are looking to help each other out.

2015 Mazda2

In exchange for Toyotas hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle technology, Mazda intends to provide Toyota with the mechanics behind their efficient petrol engine technology – SkyActiv. The result is a win-win arrangement for both automakers:

  • Toyota gets better engines for their own portfolio (which have fallen behind the advancement of their hybrid counterparts, relatively speaking), AND increased proliferation of hydrogen technology.
  • Mazda gets access to the world’s leading FCV technology – development of which they could never do on their own with their limited budget.

Toyota has already made some of their key hydrogen fuel-cell patents available for free to any and all of their competitors. Again, the reasoning is that the more automakers working on fuel-cell vehicles, the quicker the hydrogen refueling infrastructure can grow. As it stands, there are only 12 hydrogen refueling stations in the US.

Meanwhile, Mazda has about one tenth the R&D budget of Toyota, who just announced an $18.1 billion profit for the fiscal year. They’ve spent the past several years focused entirely on fuel-efficient conventional engines, which has left them sorely lacking in the electrification department. The pre-existing technology partnership has helped, but gaining Toyota’s FCV technology would really put them head-and-shoulders above many of their larger competitors.

Although nothing has been put in writing just yet, officials from both automakers have been cited saying that their partnership will only expand with time. In the future, Toyota and Mazda could continue sharing more parts, manufacturing and even commercial vehicles, in addition to green technology. The two automakers have very similar perspectives when it comes to manufacturing and development; they both want to sell simple, clean cars without any real flaws.

The Toyota Mirai: Looking A Lot Less Like Bulls–t

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

2015 Toyota Mirai

The upcoming Toyota Mirai FCV has been a car of some controversy, to say the least. On the one hand, you have Toyota officials and many others in the auto industry (most of whom are developing their own FCVs) claiming that hydrogen is THE answer to clean, renewable fuel. Others, like Tesla’s Elon Musk, say that fuel-cell vehicles are straight-up “bulls–t”.

Toyota has heard their critics, and they have answered in perhaps one of the cleverest marketing stunts of the past decade – they partnered with Morgan Spurlock to create this video, called “Fueled by Bullsh*t”. Check it out if you haven’t already seen it:

The video demonstrates how one could, if one were so inclined, extract hydrogen from cow manure. The video ends with a Toyota Mirai literally running on bull hockey. It is the first in an ongoing series of videos called “Fueled by Everything” which Toyota will use to promote their upcoming commercial FCV.

Meanwhile, first drive reviews of the Toyota Mirai are starting to roll in, such as this review from The Washington Post. WP’s Drew Harwell had the chance to ride around D.C. behind the wheel of the four-door sedan, and his conclusion is candid, but optimistic.

“Riding this, it really feels like something that could be the future, but until there’s that hydrogen infrastructure, it’s really going to be hard to see this getting in everybody’s garage, at least in the short-term,” Harrell said at the end of his review.

The Toyota Mirai will go on sale for $57,500 when it launches in California later this year, and Toyota only plans to sell 3,000 units in the US by the end of 2017. For that price, you’ll get a completely emissions-free car with a 300-mile range – more than any plug-in electric vehicle currently on the market – and a 5-minute refuel time, just like petrol. Harrell was adamant that the car itself is a blast to drive with great steering and responsive acceleration, along with all the creature comforts one could ask for in a modern-day interior.

Meanwhile, the Toyota Mirai and FCVs in general still have plenty of critics. For example, Clean Technica points out that even though the Mirai itself may be emissions-free, the processing and transportation of hydrogen – the well-to-wheel emissions, if you will – still requires lots of natural gas. But, Toyota isn’t just thinking about the next five years or even the next decade… They really believe the FCV will be the car of the future; the car we’ll still be driving in 100 years.

Japanese Car Auction Find – 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Realistically, most of us won’t have access to the Toyota Mirai for several years yet. We’re stuck with plain old hybrid cars like this 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid until the hydrogen infrastructure is more widely adopted around the world. But, there’s nothing wrong with that – the Camry is a great car that needs no introduction.

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid rear

This Japanese car auction find is particularly reminiscent of the Toyota Mirai with its pearl white paint job (which is one of only two colors we’ve ever seen the FCV depicted in), but of course it is a much more affordable car, even new. The Camry is reliable, fun to drive and has great fuel-economy… All things you probably already knew, since it is after all one of the most well-known and beloved cars of all time. For a detailed rundown of this specific car’s auction sheet, keep reading below:

2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid auction sheet

Interior C, exterior condition C, first registered May 2012, Hybrid G Package, DAA emissions code, FAT, AAC, first time in auction, HDD navigation system, rear view reversing camera, TV, smart entry and start, original navigation system, original TV, ABS, airbag, original alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, FAT, AAC, console scratches, carpets have medium stains, interior grime, scratches under bumpers, front windscreen stone scratches, marks as per map

Toyota Mirai to Be Hand-Built Through 2017; Already 200 Sold

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Barely more than a week after the Toyota Mirai’s worldwide debut at the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Japanese automaker has already received 200 advanced orders for their all-new hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Not only that, they’ve also revealed that the Mirai will be built in the same factory that built the limited edition Lexus LFA supercar.

Toyota Mirai Already Selling Out

2016 Toyota Mirai FCV

Toyota only intends to sell a meager 3,000 Mirai units in the US units by the end of 2017, and only 700 of those will hit dealership floors in 2016 (the model’s first full year in the US). Toyota’s VP of domestic sales, Masamoto Maekawa, told Automotive News that most of those orders are going to government and corporate fleets, but a few commercial orders have been placed too.

There are two big reasons that Toyota is slow-rolling their commercial FCV:

First, they’d rather err on the side of over-demand than over-supply. This is a very big venture for them, and in situations like this, a little bit of exclusivity is a powerful long-term marketing tactic.

Second, Toyota intends to manufacture only a maximum of 10 units per day through 2017, and each will be built completely by hand in the most advanced manufacturing plant at the Japanese titan’s disposal. Which nicely brings us to…

Toyota Mirai to Be Built at LFA Works

2012 Lexus LFA Supercar

Lexus would tell you that their specialty LFA Works facility is where dream cars are made, and in the case of the Toyota Mirai, they’re absolutely right.

The plant originated in 2010 when Lexus first began manufacture of their limited-edition LFA supercar, which was built completely by hand. Only 500 of the carbon fiber, V10-powered sports cars were manufactured over 2 years, which is a rate of less than one per day. Since the LFA project’s expiration in 2012, the plant has been mostly used for hand-built Lexus F Sport Roadbikes, which took advantage of the facility’s advanced carbon fiber capabilities.

Now, the advanced craftsmen at LFA Works have a new task: to build every single Toyota Mirai by hand. Eventually, Toyota hopes that their LFA Works engineers will be able to output a steady 10 units per day, but in the meantime, some production delays are expected.

If you were to order a Toyota Mirai today, you wouldn’t get it until mid-summer of 2016 at the earliest. And that date is only moving backwards as they get more and more fleet sales. Remember, 200 units might not sound like much, but that’s over the span of one week since the car’s LA debut, and two weeks since Akio Toyoda introduced us to the Mirai via video.

Honestly, though, we are perfectly happy with some production delays. The Lexus LFA was one of the best cars – and one of the coolest – that Toyota ever built. If those same masters of the automotive craft are to build every single Toyota Mirai for the next three years, all the more reason to get on-board now!

New Honda FCV Concept Unveiled in Japan Ahead of LA

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Toyota officially introduced us to their production-ready Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle this weekend, and they set an official ETA for mid-2015. At the same time, Honda has assured us that they aren’t too far behind by showing us the newest iteration of their future fuel-cell offering. This is the new Honda FCV Concept:

2016 Honda FCV Concept

Although Honda can’t hope to match Toyota’s mid-2015 launch date, they have promised to launch their own fuel-cell vehicle by March 2016 in Japan, followed by a US and European launch later that year.

As we said, this is the newest iteration of their fuel-cell concepts, which of course means that it’s not the first version we’ve seen. The original FCEV Concept was shown at last year’s LA Motor Show, pictured below. The FCEV Concept was in-turn a successor to the original 2002 Honda FCX Clarity sedan, which we’ll talk more about below.

Honda FCEV Concept

Even though there’s no denying that the new FCV Concept showcases some very aggressive styling, you can see that it’s actually been toned down quite a bit since the 2013 FCEV Concept. The new white line extending back from the A-pillar gives the car a distinct sense of boundary, and the removal of the rear wheel covers makes the car look a lot more realistic.

That being said, Honda tells us that the most noticeable changes from the FCX Clarity to today’s FCV Concept can be felt on the inside. They’ve successfully confined the newly developed powertrain to the normal front-end engine compartment, which means that there’s over 33% more room left for a spacious interior cabin. All that extra space will allow the Honda FCV to be a true five-seat sedan when it finally goes on sale in 2016.

Of course, Honda has to beat Toyota somewhere, so their press release specifically claims that their FCV will be able to drive more than 300 miles on a single tank (300 miles is the Toyota Mirai’s claimed driving range), although Honda doesn’t specify exactly how far their car will go. Honestly, it’s probably one of those, “Let’s make a promise now, figure it out later,” kind of situations; driving range will likely end up being 310 miles instead of 300.

Honda FCX Clarity

Honda FCX Clarity

As if to make up for the fact that their FCV will launch second to the Mirai, Honda made sure to remind customers that they’ve had a hand in hydrogen fuel-cell development from the start. In 2002, they opened the doors for an FCX leasing program, and they’ve also made individual sales to several consumers in the US for the sake of real-world testing and valuable feedback. So, even though the Mirai will be the first HFCV you’ll be able to buy in a conventional dealership, it won’t be the first FCV retail customers have ever had access to. You got us there, Honda – well played. (They fail to mention that Toyota partnered with them to create that leasing program, but we won’t nit-pick)

In all seriousness, whatever rivalry lies between Honda and Toyota, the truth is that both of their hydrogen-powered vehicles will have an equal impact on the industry, and they both have each other to thank for the progress they’ve made thus far. Both automakers have been openly collaborating with the Japanese government since the beginning of this year to ensure that Japan remains at the forefront of hydrogen technology development for at least the next two or three decades. In fact, the three parties have together pledged to get the entry-point for commercial HFCVs down to $20,000 within a decade.

If you’d like to learn more about the new Honda FCV Concept, you can get Honda’s official press release here.

Official Toyota FCV Design, Pricing & Launch Date Revealed

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

After years of hearing nothing but rumors about Toyota’s fuel-cell technology, and then a couple years more of only concepts and prototypes, Toyota has FINALLY unveiled the body of their production-ready FCV sedan. As you continue reading, we’ll learn all about this car’s design, pricing and launch date – everything Toyota’s told us so far.

Let’s start with the best part – pictures! First up is the global Toyota FCV model displayed last week in Japan, followed by the US-spec model displayed this week in Aspen.

Japanese-spec Toyota FCV Production Model
US-spec Toyota FCV Production Version

Aside from color, the only noticeable difference between the US-spec and the Japan-spec vehicles is the yellow reflector in the black stripe along the US-spec’s front clip. Both vehicles are nearly identical to the original Toyota FCV Concept, with the only major differences being the addition of LEDs along the front air intakes, more realistic side mirrors, and a toned down rear-end.

Unfortunately, Toyota hasn’t revealed anything about the production FCV’s interior. Our guess is we’ll see the whole thing sometime towards the end of this year (2014 Tokyo Motor Show, maybe?) or the beginning of next (possibly at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show). Either way, we can’t wait to see more.

The production Toyota FCV is officially slated to launch in Japan in April of next year, with a US launch around the beginning of summer 2015. However, the US-launch especially will be rather limited… The FCV will start out with California-only availability, given that’s the only state with a hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

As for pricing, Toyota says that the Japanese market will get the first Toyota FCV for around 7M yen, which is around $68,700. However, Toyota specifically stated that this price may not carry over into the US/EU markets, depending on the price of exporting and the different legal requirements for each locale. In other words, even though we’ve seen the exterior of the FCV, there’s still a lot left undecided inside the car and in the background.

The good news is that Toyota has already surpassed their early estimates for fuel efficiency and driving range. The car was originally estimated to achieve a driving range around 300 miles, but the estimate has risen substantially now that production is in sight. The production FCV is expected to offer a driving range around 435 miles, or 700 km, which Toyota rightly notes is in line with the range of today’s gasoline engines. And that’s with the same refueling time of ~3 minutes, and the same 0-60 time of around 10 seconds.

You’ll have to stay tuned later this year for more detailed information, but in the meantime you can watch the promotional video Toyota released below:

Production of Toyota FCV Confirmed for December 2014

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

It’s just been officially confirmed that Toyota will begin production of their first commercial hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle in December of this year. We’d heard that Toyota was aiming for a 2015 launch date, so it seems that things are moving faster than expected.

The news comes from The Japan Times, who offered a few more details about the hydrogen fuel-cell car’s release. Apparently, Toyota will actually begin production about halfway through December so that they can have their first FCVs on showroom floors just in time for Christmas.

Toyota FCV Concept

For those of you who’re new to Toyota’s hydrogen fuel-cell hype train, the car that they’ll bring to market will be based on the Toyota FCV Concept (pictured above). If you’re willing to go back a ways, we saw the first iteration of the FCV Concept all the way back in 2011 as the FCV-R. The most recent, and most relevant, iteration of the FCV Concept was first seen at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show last November.

What kind of amazing fuel economy can you expect from Toyota’s first hydrogen car? Its total driving range is estimated to be about 435 miles with a top speed of 106 mph. The hydrogen-powered electric motor will likely output something around 135 hp – the perfect amount for responsive city driving.

The production Toyota FCV will go on sale for roughly ¥8,000,000, which is around $78,000 for our US readers. However, Toyota doesn’t plan to keep its FCV-based vehicle priced that high for long: Prices will likely drop bit by bit over the next five or six years until the next FCV debuts for less than half the price of the original “in the 2020s”. Toyota specifically said they’d like to hit the ¥3,000,000 mark ($29,250), but ¥5,000,000 ($48,775) is a more realistic goal. At this price point Toyota feels it would be easy to boost sales and expand production capacity.

Speaking of production, Toyota hasn’t made any mention of where their FCV-based vehicle will, or won’t, first go on sale. Since the car will be manufactured at the Motomachi plant in the Toyota, Aichi Prefecture in Japan, we know it’ll be available there. However, Toyota hasn’t given us any recent updates about when and where the hydrogen car will make it onto international shores. We’re hoping it’ll be by the end of 2014, but nothing’s set in stone.

Really, the problem isn’t whether or not Toyota can manufacture enough hydrogen cars to meet a high international demand. The thing that would keep Toyota from offering a US or EU FCV is the lack of refueling infrastructure. Even in California, hydrogen refueling stations are few and far between. However, Toyota has shown that a comprehensive, nationwide hydrogen-refueling infrastructure would be 4x cheaper to build than the electric charging infrastructure that’d be necessary for the widespread use of EVs.

Either way, we’ll keep you updated as soon as we know more about where Toyota’s first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle will be available. In the meantime, we’re just glad that Toyota is moving ahead of schedule… We’d originally expected to see the first production FCV at Christmas of 2015, so Toyota is moving a full year faster than anticipated if they can manage to meet their December goal.

Toyota Confirms Annual Sales Goals for their 2015 Toyota FCV

Posted by Stephen On Friday, December 20th, 2013

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.

Toyota’s Tokyo Concepts Pt. 1 – The FCV Concept & FV2 Concept

Posted by Stephen On Friday, November 8th, 2013

If you’re wondering who’s going to make the most prolific appearance at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, look no further than Toyota. In addition to the Lexus concepts we discussed yesterday, they’ll be bringing seven new concepts under the main Toyota marquee, although a couple are just expanded editions of previous concepts.

Obviously, it would be very difficult to give that many concepts the thorough treatment they deserve if we tried to squeeze previews for all five into just one blog post. So, today we’re going to discuss the two most important concepts that Toyota is bringing to the show, and then we’ll cover the other slightly-less-important concepts tomorrow.

Sound good? Let’s get started…

Toyota FCV Concept

Toyota FCV Fuel Cell Concept Car at Tokyo Motor Show

What we have here is the long awaited Toyota FCV concept, which is officially the first hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle from Toyota. This concept previews a production model which Toyota intends to launch “around 2015”. According to Toyota, the concept actually boasts a driving range of approximately 500 km, about 310 miles, all with a refueling time similar to what you’d get from a regular gas-pump.

Practically speaking, the FCV Concept fits into the realm of family sedan. It seats four people with four doors, and the engine outputs a low-key 134bhp.

The exterior isn’t quite what you’d expect from a typical Toyota sedan, though. Apparently the FCV Concept’s design is inspired by a catamaran (the yachts with two hulls and a sail in between). That explains the almost wave-like feeling you get looking at the side of the vehicle. But, the design does more than just look good… It’s also very aerodynamic, which helps the concept achieve such incredible hydrogen fuel economy.

Toyota FV2 Concept

Toyota FV2 Concept at Tokyo Motor Show

Toyota’s next concept is an entirely unprecedented world premiere. In other words, we haven’t seen or heard anything about this concept until today when Toyota unleashed its preview images for the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

Officially called the Toyota FV2 concept, which will literally means “Fun Vehicle 2”, this is a concept which aims to connect perfectly with its driver. The exact words that Toyota used were “connecting with the driver’s heart”.

Apparently, the FV2 Concept accomplishes this intimate connection through its steering system, which doesn’t operate with a normal steering wheel. Instead, the driver will use their body weight to direct the FV2 while the vehicle contributes to the cause with automated safe-driving protocols and advanced warnings for blind spots. The car is advanced enough that it can actually measure your mood while you’re driving based on image recognition and an ability to “learn” your driving habits.

As you can see, these are two incredibly progressive concepts from Toyota. While we may never see anything like the FV2 in dealerships, the FCV Concept will be a production model in the not-so-distant future. In just a couple years’ time, Toyota aims to have their first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle on the market.

We can’t wait until doors officially open for the Tokyo Motor Show so that we can all learn more about these two concepts. In the meantime, stay tuned tomorrow for more information about the other concepts the world’s largest Japanese brand is bringing to its home-turf motor show.