Toyota may be planning to add a plug to every Prius it builds, but it hasn’t given up on the hydrogen fuel cell dream, despite the fact that there is no clean, zero emissions source of hydrogen at the present time. Prodded by the Japanese government, Toyota is moving ahead with plans to bring fuel cell vehicles to the masses whether they want them or not. The FCV Plus concept on display now at the Paris auto show is one result of those plans.
With this car, Toyota has gone beyond the simply weird all the way to the truly strange. The company says it is more than just a car in the same way a smartphone is more than just a phone. Not only does it drive on hydrogen, it can be part of the “electric power-generating infrastructure,” manufacturing electricity to power the owner’s home or feed power back into the electrical grid while it is sitting idle in the driveway.
The versatile FCV Plus can also be hooked up to an external hydrogen tank. Once that happens, it transitions from being just a car into a local generating station without the worry of depleting the onboard hydrogen storage tank. But the concept hasn’t run out of tricks yet. It is also possible to remove the fuel cell stack, which is positioned between the front wheels, and use it independently as a portable generator.
The components including the drivetrain and fuel cell stack of the FCV Plus has been miniaturized, allowing the car itself to be reduced in size to a mere 12.5 feet in length by 5.5 feet wide and just over 5 feet tall while still feeling spacious inside. Toyota characterizes it as being the length of a compact car with the cabin of a large sedan and says this makes it ideal for city use. The concept features individual electric motors at each wheel and a 360 degree panoramic view of the outside world.
Sometimes concept cars reflect what will happen in a few years. Other times they are statements of what might be possible a decade or more down the road. The FCV Plus definitely fits into that latter category. Toyota says it thinks the technology for this sort of a vehicle needs another dozen years or more for development. By then, the electric car revolution should be well along, rendering the FCV Plus little more than an interesting curiosity in the history of the automobile.
Source: New Atlas Photo credits: Toyota