Toyota engineers 'dramatic' cost reduction in fuel-cell technology, plans 2015 vehicle launch

  • 07-Jan-2014 04:20 EST

A Toyota FCV mule undergoes cold testing in Yellowknife, Canada. Program engineers have logged more than a million fuel-cell test miles in North America.

Because its engineers have made faster progress than expected, Toyota will offer a fuel-cell car in the U.S. in 2015—earlier than it had planned—the company announced Jan. 6 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Hyundai and Honda were first to announce 2015 launch dates for their fuel-cell vehicles. The Toyota vehicle's name and price will be announced later, as will more details about its technologies, said Bob Carter, Senior Vice President, Automotive Operations, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. The vehicle will be a four-door midsize car with a range of about 300 mi (483 km). Fuel-cell stack output will be more than 100 kW. Acceleration from 0-100 mph (161 km/h) will be in the 10 s range. Rapid technological developments have enabled the company to reduce cost of the car's fuel-cell powertrain and hydrogen storage tanks by an estimated 95% compared with those used on the original Highlander fuel-cell demo vehicle in 2002. A key advance is an improved converter that triples system voltage from the fuel cell to the electric motor, saving weight, space, and "considerable cost," Carter said. A study by Toyota and the University of California-Irvine shows that only 68 hydrogen fueling stations would be needed statewide to accommodate 10,000 or more fuel-cell vehicles concentrated in five urban areas.

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