Toyota to unveil affordable fuel cell car at Tokyo Motor Show, for release in 2015
Toyota should be the world’s first car manufacturer to release an affordable hydrogen fuel cell powered car to the public. This is the first time the eco-friendly tech has been affordable enough to actually sell, other than Hyundai's ix35 effort which hasn't been priced. But when we say affordable we mean between $50,000 (£31,150) and $100,000 - so it's not cheap either.
The concept version of the car will be on display at the Tokyo Motor Show which starts on Saturday 23 November. It could be on sale as soon as 2015 - years before most of its competitors get to market. While others focus on electric cars Toyota could overcome the problems of slow refuel times and short range by bringing in hydrogen fuel cell cars early.
Toyota is far ahead of most of the competition because it has been investing heavily into research to make hydrogen fuel cells cheaper. The result is a much smaller fuel cell system that uses much less of a far cheaper ingredient than other versions as it uses platinum.
Hydrogen will power the car producing only water vapour as a bi-product. The advantage over electric cars is that fuel cells can be filled up much the same as petrol cars now, in mere minutes. It will also have a far greater range than electric cars are able to manage. The only problem, other than car price, is fuel stations.
While other car manufacturers plan to sell fuel cell cars it won’t be for a while - GM, for instance, plans to start in 2020. Hyundai claims the ix35 Fuel Cell will be available soon but is yet to set a price or date. But with governments committed to installing hydrogen fuel stations we may see the movement come about sooner than was expected.
It’s probably also worth noting that with huge reliance on lithium for mobiles, tablet and computers right now a jump in electric cars might lead to a shortage. So it’s good to have an alternative in fuel cells.