Toyota's Fuel Cell Car To Debut In Tokyo, Match Tesla Model S On Range, Price?

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Would you buy a fuel cell car with similar range and at a similar price to the Tesla Model S electric car?

Toyota will be hoping some customers will, as Bloomberg reports the Japanese automaker will show its fuel cell vehicle at November's Tokyo Motor Show.

The new car is expected to debut in 2014 as a 2015 model-year vehicle, though it's unclear which markets it will initially appear in.

It isn't even clear what brand the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle will debut under, the company previously suggesting it would be badged as a Lexus and sell for around $50,000.

That price appears to have remained in the same ballpark, though Chris Hostetter, U.S. group vice president for advanced product development, told reporters the car will be "price competitive" with the Tesla Model S--a car that starts from just under $70,000 before incentives.

Range on a tank of hydrogen should be around 300 miles, and while there's not yet a suitable network for fuel cell vehicles, it promises similar range to the Model S with filling times more in keeping with regular gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Stylistically the greatest clues to the new fuel cell car come from the existing FCV-R concept, though with a new Prius around the corner there's likely to be some family resemblance to Toyota's green flagship too.

Fuel cell vehicles are expected to play an increasing role in the green transport sector, with several top automakers working on fuel cell projects--Toyota itself recently teamed up with BMW to expediate and reduce costs of future development.

Others are less convinced--among them, Elon Musk, who called them "fool cells" in an interview last month (as well as previous occasions).

"They are so stupid,” he said, “ could take best case of a fuel cell, theoretically the best case, and it does not compete with lithium-ion cells today."

The Tesla Motors CEO added that lithium-ion cells still are far from their optimum, too.

However, Bloomberg notes that we've been here before, early reports dismissing Toyota's hybrid technology. Five million cars down the line, hybrids are no longer the gamble they once were.

There's no guarantee fuel cells will follow in those footsteps, and improvements in electric vehicles will continue to reduce their weaknesses over the next few years. Toyota's fuel cell car will need to be groundbreaking to compete.


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Comments (31)
  1. No, I wouldn't buy one I can't put fuel in it. Why would you pick a hydrogen Toyota over a Tesla that you can charge in your garage at home? Toyota is just producing this so they can accept that big check, from you know who.

  2. Maybe Toyota should sweeten the deal; build 200 hydrogen filling stations at their own expense and offer the use of them "free for life".

    Wouldn't convince me to get a compact sedan that looks like a boat for the same money as a the rave reviewed and award winning Model S but at least it would be a gesture that Toyota is somewhat serious with this deal.

  3. Easier said then done. Tesla doesn't have to make the electricity and then truck it to a station.

  4. No, they don't, but isn't that the point?

  5. Assuming these cars will be sold in Japan for the short term, is there a hydrogen re-fueling network in place there already? If not, where are the customers getting the Hydrogen to run these cars? It seems the lack of Hydrogen infrastructure is one of the main concerns hindering adoption of FCV's, and if that hasn't been cracked, I fail to see how any FCV will sell, no matter whose badge is on the grill.

  6. Japan has something like a dozen stations with plans to reach 100 by the end of 2015. This is a fool's errand.

  7. Toyota said that the new RAV 4 EV didn’t sell because it was too expensive. Not sure that I am following their logic on this one.

  8. Yep. Toyota needs a reality check. True, they liked hybrids and did well at them. They don't like EVs because they are expensive, but they like the (more expensive) FCVs - which are in every single way much worse than an EV. At last Nissan seems to get it.

  9. A gasoline SOFC would make sense. H2? Not so much. Especially at the Model S' price.

  10. No mention of performance? At $50,000, this FCV better have a least the performance on the i3. Range is not the attribute that will sell this car over a gasoline counterpart. Range does no good if there is no place to fill it up!

  11. Absolutely not. It's not a beautiful luxury sport car with a sunroof, 17" touchscreen, and tons of cargo space; and it doesn't have a frunk. This car is exceptionally ugly and has next to no infrastructure as opposed to the expanding Tesla Supercharger and Battery Swap station infrastructure. In less than two years, they will blanket the nation allowing for coast to coast travel as fast as any gas car or a little slower, but for free using the Superchargers. The upgraded 120kW Superchargers give ~200 miles of range in 30 min. charge. Did I mention that they are free?

    Hydrogen fuel cell technology does not make sense. It's worse in every single way to Tesla's technology that will be mainstream in just three years with the $35,000 Bluestar.

  12. I certainly wouldn't buy either car if I had to depend on their respective existing "infrastructure": there are just as many H2 stations in the US as Tesla superchargers, a dozen or so, leaving the vast majority of the country undeserved.

    The killer advantage of EVs over fuel-cells is that they don't need a new infrastructure to be built before they can be used, they can just be refueled at home.
    Unless FCVs come up with some other cool benefit, for example a dramatic improvement in range or price over batteries, I don't see such vehicles ever becoming competitive.

  13. Currently 95% of available hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels!

  14. Correct. The recipe is simple: take a hydrocarbon, split of the hydro part and dump the carbon (CO2)part.

  15. I'm surprised so many people on this forum have such closed minds. Do all of you work for Tesla? The Japanese are establishing a hydrogen refueling network, and yes, I believe there absolutely will be on in the U.S. one day.

  16. The hydrogen hoax is very old. Most people realise by now that its not quite the silver bullet it once appeared and have moved on.

  17. I'm willing to listen - explain to me how a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle could ever make me want to give up my Model S and solar panels. Please don't forget the part where you explain how you will make hydrogen econmically without using fossil fuels.

  18. Scott, I am guessing you (and anyone else who has any enthusiasm for this daft idea) have not really researched the issues surrounding H2 as a fuel very well. I know it sounds like a splendid idea. I did too, once, right up until I read a bit about the practicalities. This article sums it up quite well (but is a bit old now)... ... and if you still think H2 is a winner come back and tell us. Come back and tell us you think its a white elephant too, if you change your mind. For a more thorough analysis read 'The Emperor's New Hydrogen Economy'
    by Darryl McMahon. MW

  19. Hydrogen cars are just electric cars with fuel that's controlled by Gas companies. I think I'll stay with an electric car that I can fuel at home and cut out the monstrous middle man.

  20. "Hydrogen cars are just electric cars with fuel that's controlled by Gas companies"

    Spot on! They have done so much harm to this world, by corrupting democracies, covering up pollution, denying climate science.

    Fossil fuels companies must become fossils.

  21. I don't think the overwhelming majority of car buyers will buy ANY car that doesn't completely assure them that they are (a) safe, and (b) hassle free to get fuel over a long range journey/vacation trip. "Range insecurity" is what any serious manufacturer of a non-gasoline vehicle has to assure customers of, or they won't buy. But most mainstream manufacturers are not serious about alternative fuel cars. If they fail to sell, that's okay by them. Tesla is serious, and that's what worries the big car producers.

  22. I agree with most that hydrogen will likely not happen. In fact, I have always thought it was a misdirection, intentionally, to keep competition for fossil fuels low. I would just say that the way it would or might work is as a commuting vehicle where people would have solar water splitting systems in their houses for refueling. However, this makes them somewhat similar to the actual best application of EVs at the moment, that being as a commuter charged at home overnight, but with a much higher capital investment. It also, like EVs, gets us off the corporate tether to the refineries and power plants. Not really the plan for fuel cell supporters. They are more about delaying the real replacement for fossil fuels.

  23. The Toyota Hindenburg. Coming continuously in the future. No smoking please!

  24. Gee... How many propane or gasoline tanks do you see turn into fireballs every day?

    Hydrogen is no different -- if anything it's safer than gasoline, as the tank is much sturdier, and if breached, H2 goes up, where it's less likely to ignite, and causes less damage if it does, than gasoline and its vapors spreading on or near the ground.

    Safety is perfectly manageable; the other challenges hydrogen faces are IMHO more serious.

  25. I would tend to agree with most here. Toyota obviously has a managerial segment in the company who is blind to the EV potential. If they spent the money they will spend on infrastructural development in order to improve the RAV eV and bring its cost down, then it would do well in the future.To compare the success of the Hybrid to the potential future of FCV's is ludicrous. The hybrid did not have an infrastructural fuel supply problem. They have let the hybrid success story cloud their judgement.

  26. They are not blind at all. They don't want EV's to succeed. It will kill the business model of every major car manufacturer, and they know it. With an EV there is practically nothing to repair. They can last forever. The only serious guy out there is Elon Musk and his Tesla company.

  27. I don't see anything referring to cost and especially cost per mile vs. an EV or PEHV assuming a fueling network is in place. NOT

  28. Fuel Cell vehicles are dead-end technology.

    Fuel Cells work in one place - outer space. Perhaps larger-scale natural gas fuel cells which turn gas into energy directly without burning it (UTI had Pure Cells - but sold off the division, that's how awesome they are).

  29. The one fuel cell technology that would work, with more research, is a fuel cell that converts gasoline hydrocarbons to energy without burning it. Leaving the energy lost to heat to possibly be used more for locomotion.

  30. Fuel cell systems deriving electricity from natural gas are commercially available (, but are only slightly more efficient than combined cycle power plants (">50%" vs 40~45%).

  31. this decision with the PiP's 12 mile EV range(on a VERY good day) has me scratching my head...

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