When it comes to fuel cell vehicles (FCVs), Toyota has made some pretty big promises, and the Japanese automaker has some pretty big expectations for its hydrogen cars. Toyota is hoping to sell between 5,000 and 10,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the first year. Seems hopeful and ambitious for a car that should cost at least $50,000.
Ambitious, but certainly not undoable. Tesla Motors has sold every Model S it could make, and the starting retail price of the pure electric sedan is $70,000. Done right, and a Toyota FCV with access to a local hydrogen fueling network could have a wider appeal than pure electric cars. The problem is that Toyota is projecting pretty far into the future, banking on technology that isn’t quite there yet.
Toyota executives think that after 2020, FCVs will be just another part of the alternative fuel equation, offering upwards of 300 miles of driving range while advances in technology will bring the cost further downward. While I don’t doubt that progress is being made, Toyota would do well to heed the lessons learned by Nissan and electric cars, which are far easier to fuel given the nature of electricity (it’s just about everywhere).
If Toyota truly wants fuel cell vehicles to be competitive, they need to start investing in a fueling network, like, now. Europe and SoCal are great places to start, but the problem of hydrogen storage, both at refueling stations and in the vehicles themselves, still need to be solved. Still, if it looks anything like the FCV Concept Toyota debuted at the Tokyo Auto Show, it might be worth taking a second look at.
That said, Toyota isn’t the only company banking big bucks on fuel cell vehicles. Honda and Hyundai are just two of the big names pledging to sell fuel cell vehicles in in the next couple of years,. By then though, electric cars will have a big head start and just about every automaker will be offering a pure electric model on dealer lots. Can consumers really handle yet another green car?
2015 is the year we find out.
Source: Automotive News Europe