Toyota hopes to sell somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles starting in 2015 when the vehicle is introduced.
That year, Toyota is one of three Asian automakers planning to start offering hydrogen cars along with Honda and Hyundai. Hydrogen vehicles are still in their infancy and are prohibitively expensive; Toyota’s prototypes cost $1 million each. Since then, the company says advances in the technology allow for drastic price reductions, but the vehicles still won’t be cheap. Earlier this year, it said they will cost between $50,000 and $100,000.
Toyota research and development chief Soichiro Okudaira told Automotive News that he expects fuel cell vehicles to be price competitive with other forms of “eco cars” before 2030. By 2020, he says they will be “just one alternative of the eco cars.”
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles use platinum as a catalyst to harvest electric energy from hydrogen fuel. That energy is stored in battery packs and used to fuel an electric powertrain. During the first five years of sales, Toyota will focus on driving fuel cell costs down by 80 percent, Okudaira said. That doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicles will see such dramatic cost reductions.
Automakers aiming to market fuel cell vehicles will face challenges outside the prohibitive cost of their own products. Fueling infrastructure is virtually non-existent with only a handful of station in the U.S.
A disparity in charging systems is one of the challenges electric car manufacturers and owners currently face. Relative cooperation by automakers will be a major factor in successfully marketing the technology. Daimler will join with oil and gas companies to invest roughly $500 million in hydrogen stations for Germany. Honda and GM have also announced a plan that includes collaborating on infrastructure.
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[Source: Automotive News]
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