The way I see it, hydrogen fuel is the real fuel of the future. It sounds almost too good to be true; clean, abundant, and the only emissions is a little H20. Of course, most hydrogen is made from natural gas right now, but that could change in the future. Also, the whole lack of infrastructure and high cost of hydrogen cars has made automakers focus on other technologies that can come to market sooner.
Toyota, however, has never given up on hydrogen. They have managed to cut the costs of hydrogen fuel technology by hundreds of thousands of dollars, to the point where they plan to offer a hydrogen fuel cell powered sedan in five years for around $50,000.
According to Bloomberg, Toyota has managed to pare down the costs of hydrogen fuel technology by nearly 90% over the past decade. Early estimates pegged the cost of a hydrogen fuel car at $1 million or more. Now I could see spending $1 million on a Bugatti Veyron. But a family sedan? Not bloody likely.
But $50,000 is a lot easier pill to swallow. People already spend that on cars, SUV’s, and trucks. While a $50,000 Toyota seems a bit out of place, being first to market with a hydrogen vehicle would be a huge boon. Toyota is aiming to not lose money on hydrogen cars, unlike GM, which has admitted it will lose money on its first generation Chevy Volt. If they can make hydrogen cars affordable, AND make money on them… maybe hydrogen cars are closer than we think. We still need an infrastructure, but hopefully GM’s plans in Hawaii lead to something larger down the road.
Among the ways Toyota cut costs was reducing the use of platinum by two-thirds, though they still use over an ounce of the precious metal per car. And at cost of over $1,675 an ounce, that adds a lot of money to the car. And that is just one single component out of hundreds of thousands. Toyota says their hydrogen fuel vehicle would have comparable range to a gasoline car, and at the cost of $50,000 they would be able to turn a profit and still appeal to the market… though the car might be better marketed as a Lexus.
GM, Hyundai, Honda, and Mazda are among the other companies working to bring a hydrogen fuel car to market before 2020.
Do you think there will be a $50,000 hydrogen-fuel car on the market by 2015? And if there is, would you buy it?
Source: Bloomberg | Image: Toyota