Toyota: Hydrogen Fuel Will Be Costly



Toyota is one of the most outspoken proponents of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, even ditching its partnership with Tesla Motors to focus on the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. But even with generous incentives, fueling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles won’t be cheap, with a full tank of the clean-burning fuel costing around $50, reports Ecomento.

That’s what Toyota’s Senior VP of North America Bob Carter said at the recent JP Morgan Auto Conference, claiming that cost estimate comes directly from the Department of Energy. He says the cost will eventually fall to about $30, which is about on par with the cost to fuel many high-mileage compact cars. For example, my 2012 Chevy Sonic 1.4T costs on average about $35 to fill, and gives me 300 miles of driving range, which is what the Toyota Mirai is claiming.

From the onset though, hydrogen fuel will remain nearly twice as expensive as gasoline it seems, though the Department of Energy is funding research to accelerate price parity with gasoline. But from the onset, filling up a hydrogen fuel cell car is going to be costly, moreso than even gasoline.

Then again, you could just buy a car like the Tesla Model S, which can go 265 miles on a full charge which will cost you (depending on where you live) less than $10 to fully charge. If you hook up to a Tesla Supercharger though, that fuel is free. The initial batch of Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell buyers will also get free fuel, though from a limited (though growing) number of hydrogen fueling stations across SoCal.

Toyota’s admission though makes it clear that even if you do buy a hydrogen car, it won’t save you a dime on fuel costs. Meanwhile, electric vehicles continue to increase in range and decrease in cost, and by 2017 the Tesla Model III aims to offer a 200-mile driving range per charge in a $35,000 sedan, half the price of the $70,000 Toyota Mirai, which begins production at the end of this year.

Sounds like yet another advantage goes to EVs, but Toyota doesn’t want to hear it.

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • AaronD12

    Not only will it not save you money, it won’t reduce emissions because of the natural gas-based creation of most commercially-available hydrogen.

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  • topkill

    I try to be open minded, but the whole hydrogen thing is such a joke that I can’t even pretend to be neutral anymore. It’s just another tie to oil/gas companies.

    • jeffhre

      Toyota believes it will be the beneficiary of lightning striking the same spot twice! First they took over the worlds perception of cleanest car maker by introducing the Prius and making a profit. Now they believe they can do the same thing with hydrogen fuel cell-EV’s.

      The fundamental problem I see with their approach is that generating and using electricity is cheaper to propel a car than gasoline. And isolating and compressing hydrogen is far more expensive, than gasoline. There were economic reasons to drivers to justify the expense of electrifying cars. There are none using hydrogen.

  • philb

    Correct I been saying this for years. Honda even developed a way to create hydrogen from your natural gas line. All this stuff is to continue a revenue stream to big oil companies. There has been new evidence that it is possible to cost effectively extract hydrogen from water yet no one is talking about it. The problem with all of these is they require energy to produce the hydrogen.

    So the benefit of hydrogen is reduced considerably do to the costs to produce. Japanese researchers have demonstrated new battery technology that improves the range of lithium Ion batteries up to 7 times the range. There maybe a time where you could get 800 to 1000 mile range out of your electric car. Its going to make it harder and harder for hydrogen supports to continue selling this idea.

    Don’t worry though big oil can write big checks to keep the automotive industry from developing high range electric cars.

    • Steve Grinwis

      they need to write a couple more cheques to Tesla then…

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  • evjuice

    Elon said the break from Toyota was because Tesla (for now) could not support the expanded EV program Toyota wanted to move to next.