Last week, Toyota held a media-only event to show off its new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle prototype. In case you’ve forgotten, the finished production model of Toyota’s first ever FCV is set to launch next year as a 2015MY, and this prototype is one of the few peeks we’ve had at what to expect. It’s the result of years and years’ worth of work for Toyota, and as you continue reading you’ll learn everything about their upcoming FCV that can be learned from this prototype debut.
The most significant new development is a hint towards the final FCV’s design. We now know that the car will be a sedan built on the same chassis as was previously used by the Lexus HS 250h, which is now only available in Japan as the Toyota Sai. Aesthetically, we expect that the car will resemble the Toyota FCV-R Concept we originally saw in 2011, which was refreshed this year at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. Size-wise, expect a sedan similar in size to the Prius; bigger than a Corolla, but smaller than a Camry.
With the debut of the prototype, we also confirmed a bit more about the car’s unique powertrain mechanics. For one, we know that the powertrain will output approximately 135 horsepower, which isn’t shabby at all. Especially when you consider that the super-dense fuel cells Toyota has developed allow room for an almost-Leaf-sized electric battery to aid in acceleration, reportedly giving the car a plenty of “pluck”. As to exactly how efficient the production FCV will be, Toyota estimates that the car will drive 300+ miles on 11 pounds of H2.
Now the only problem is providing drivers with the means to get that 11 pounds of condensed hydrogen on a regular basis. After all, it’s not something you just brew up at home in your kitchen.
Fortunately, everybody knows that 2015 will be the year when a surge of FCVs hit the market, so government agencies and private companies are working furiously to ensure that hydrogen fueling stations are available when drivers start needing them. Just this week, California government officials confirmed that they’re now streamlining plans for a standardized fuel cell refueling infrastructure. So, California drivers, at least, are sure to enjoy plentiful H2.
Obviously, this is all very exciting as Toyota’s FCV literally has the power to transform the auto industry as we know it. Toyota will release their first fuel cell vehicle at a price that will allow it to compete with many of the most popular EVs – likely above $50K, but not by much.
The next major development for Toyota’s FCV will be at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show when the Japanese giant shows us a slightly augmented version of the prototype it showed journalists last week. Until then, stay tuned for any further updates, and as always, thanks for reading!