TOYOTA FCV CONCEPT U.S debuts at 2014 Consumer Electronics Show
FCVs are powered by fuel cells, which generate electricity from hydrogen, which is not only environmentally friendly and highly energy-efficient,
but can also be produced using a variety of readily available raw materials.
When asked to peek under the hood, a Toyota representative smiled. “There isn’t an engine under there,” he said. “We’re using it to store the brochures.”
The FCV emits only water vapor so very eco-friendly. Aside from its green credentials, something that may endear the FCV to future drivers is its ability to serve as a backup household power source. The eventual production version would be able to power an average house with emergency electricity for a week, Carter said, adding that engineers are working on an external power-supply device to do that.
Toyota says it is bullish on fuel cells because it has seen price improvements in materials, design and manufacturing that would allow it to sell the FCV at a price point that isn’t exorbitant. “Compared to battery electrics, the rate of cost reduction we have seen in fuel-cell electric technology has been staggering,” Carter said.
Almost a year after of showing off that flashy blue shell in Detroit, Toyota Motor Corp. (TYO:7203) rolled into the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week with a working test version of its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
Calling it the “car of the future,” Carter said the vehicle will be a zero-emission, mid-size, four-door sedan. Toyota says it will have a range of 300 miles, can accelerate from standstill to 60 miles per hour in 10 seconds, and can refuel its hydrogen tank in three to five minutes. No official price tag was announced, but it is estimated that the cost will range from $50,000 to $100,000.
It is expected to hit the U.S. market next year in California, where most of the very few public hydrogen fueling stations are currently located.
The bigger challenge for the wider adoption of HFCVs will be the lack of refueling infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Energy currently lists 10 public hydrogen refueling stations, compared with about 6,700 public electric vehicle charging stations. The virtual absence of hydrogen outlets will have to be addressed before Toyota or any other automaker can steer the public toward HFCVs.
Toyota says it’s working with University of California Irvine’s Advanced Power and Energy Program for establishing a roadmap for where hydrogen refueling stations should be strategically placed. That kind of population is still many years off, but California is currently investing $200 million to build up to 100 stations in the next decade.
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