Toyota’s Fuel Cell Car for 2015 Gets A Whole Lot More Expensive

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Toyota Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV)

Toyota Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV)

For the past few years, Toyota executives have been keen to point out that the Japanese automaker is working on bringing a production hydrogen fuel cell car to market by 2015. 

But according to recent reports, Toyota has changed the estimated price of the as-yet un-named fuel cell car from $50,000 up to €100,000  -- the equivalent of around $138,000. 

Admittedly, the European pricing given in the Automotive News article includes european sales taxes of around 20% -- but even after removing an estimated €20,000 of tax, we come to an estimated sticker price of around €80,000, or just over $110,000

Less than 18 months ago, Toyota executives were promising a $50,000 hydrogen fuel cell car, so what’s gone wrong? 

In a word, changed priorities. And circumstance.

Toyota Advanced Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles (FCHV-adv)

Toyota Advanced Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles (FCHV-adv)

Enlarge Photo

Firstly, let’s deal with changed priorities. Over the past year, we’ve seen the automotive industry move away from hydrogen fuel-cell technology and towards plug-in hybrid, fully electric, and high-efficiency engine design.  

Part of it is driven by cost. Hydrogen fuel cell technology, while rapidly dropping in price from the $1 million prototype cars from last decade, still represents a massive financial commitment from those investing to develop the technology. 

With current administration pushing for  Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of 56.2 mpg across an automaker’s range by 2025, many automakers are choosing to spend development budgets elsewhere.  That equates to developing technologies which are cheaper to both develop and implement, such as plug-in hybrid, full electric and small capacity, high efficiency four-cylinder engines. 

Toyota Advanced Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles (FCHV-adv)

Toyota Advanced Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles (FCHV-adv)

Enlarge Photo

Secondly however, the devastating Japanese earthquakes, not to mention floods in Thailand, have helped drop Toyota’s output significantly. 

Dropped output means a drop in profits. And that means less money in the bank to help subsidize new cars, like a hydrogen fuel-cell car. 

Regardless of the reasons behind the price hike however, Toyota is unlikely to find many buyers for a $115,000 hydrogen fuel cell car, especially when we’d expect range to be less than that of all-electric zero-emissions cars like the 2012 Tesla Model S luxury sedan. 

Would you spend $115,000 to be an early-adopting hydrogen fuel cell car owner? Let us know in the Comments below.

 
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