Toyota has announced that production of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will begin this December, with deliveries starting in 2015. This will make good on Toyota’s promise to sell fuel cell vehicles, but can consumers be convinced of their advantages?
The Japan Times reports that Toyota doesn’t expect to sell too many FCVs, at least not at first, with production volume in the range of “dozens” of vehicles per month, which goes counter to initial reports that Toyota wanted to sell as many as 10,000 FCVs in the first year. Why so low? The Japan Times reports that the estimated starting price of Toyota’s hydrogen cars is around eight million yen, or about $78,000. That falls well within early estimates of $50,000 and $100,000, and while certainly not affordable, it’s an improvement over early fuel cell vehicles that cost well into the six-figures.
Then again, the Toyota FCV will be competing for customers with the likes of the Tesla Model S, and with a much more limited (and traditional) infrastructure. Meanwhile, the battery deal between Tesla and Toyota is coming to an end, showing a stark commitment hydrogen vehicles over pure EVs.
Toyota isn’t going it alone with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles though, with both California and the Federal government putting up cash to help build more hydrogen fueling stations. Honda and Hyundai are also pledging to produce hydrogen vehicles next year,and Toyota is going to great lengths to demonstrate the safety and benefits of hydrogen fuel cells over EVs.
It won’t be an easy sell, that’s for sure.