Last year, we came across Toyota’s “eco-friendly” car, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle (FCV) that was set to launch 2014. It’s 2014 now, and the car maker is unveiling this FCV’s shiny exterior to the public and announcing how much it will cost Japanese buyers to get one when it does really launch next year.
Toyota says that it has been hard at work on FCV’s for 20 years now. It actually started showing off its FCHV SUV since 2002, but the design and technology since then has been revamped to what the press have seen now at its unveiling.
The car maker is holding fast to its belief that hydrogen is the best alternative fuel since it can be produced cheaply using solar or wind energy. It theoretically can produce a higher energy density than batteries, tucked safely away, and doesn’t emit CO2 and other harmful by-products during the combustion process. There are, however, those who doubt the environmental benefits of hydrogen as commercial hydrogen actually uses up natural gas as well as more power to compress.
Needless to say, Toyota will be sticking to its guns. This FCV sedan is advertised to have a cruising range of 700 km, takes only three minutes to refuel, and emits only water vapor. For all of that, you will have to pay 7 million yen, roughly $69,000 when directly converted, when Toyota markets the vehicle before April 2015. That is almost on par with last year’s price tag for Tesla’s electric-powered Model S, but unlike the latter, there is one factor that will severely limit the Toyota FCV’s availability.
A hydrogen-powered FCV will necessarily require hydrogen refueling stations, which aren’t that many even compared to EV charging locations. As such, the Toyota FCV sedan will initially be available only in Japan, and only in regions where such infrastructure is available, like in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaki, and others. It will, however, also launch in the US and Europe by summer next year, though the exact pricing details have not yet been decided.