Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on sale by 2015

Toyota is the latest manufacturer to announce development of hydrogen power

Published:  22 November, 2013

Toyota has announced its plans to launch a car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell before 2015, at the Tokyo Auto show.

The company is the latest to announce plans to run cars on hydrogen. Other manufacturers, including Ford and Daimler, are developing hydrogen-based powertrains for their vehicles, while Hyundai have a vehicle using the technology in production.

Toyota's concept, the FCV, uses the company's existing hybrid technology, with the petrol engine replaced by a fuel cell, capable of generating electricity to run the vehicle. Two high-pressure hydrogen tanks are located under the vehicle, so as not to compromise on cabin space. The FCV uses the same electrical components as the full Toyota hybrid powertrain.

While the Japanese company expects its fuel cell cars to go on sale by 2015, it predicts that the technology will not become mass market until 2020. This market growth will be supported by the wider roll-out of fuel cell vehicle technology; the development of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure that will bring filling stations within easy reach of greater numbers of people; and cost reductions that go hand-in-hand with a maturing technology.

Daimler and Ford announced their partnership in January 2013, and expect to have a vehicle on sale by 2017. Honda, one of the first to experiment with hydrogen, including the development of a road-going vehicle, the Clarity, are now working with GM on the technology, with an on-sale goal of 2020.

Hyundai is already producing its fuel cell vehicle, the ix35, and has made it available for fleet use, with general sales expected in 2015.

Using an existing hybrid system means many components on a fuel cell vehicle will be similar to existing vehicles, although it remains to be seen what will be required for working on a fuel cell itself.

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