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Toyota Exec Stresses Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Future, Slams Critics

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Just in case there was any doubt that Toyota sees the future of green cars as powered by hydrogen fuel--not grid electricity--a company executive reiterated the point in a speech during the recent Detroit Auto Show.

As reported by Reuters, not only did Toyota's senior vice president for automotive operations Bob Carter predict that hydrogen-fueled cars could come to be as successful as its pioneering Prius hybrid, he slammed "naysayers" and called out other industry executives by name.

MORE: Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Cars To Come From Toyota, Hyundai, Honda

Those naysayers, in Carter's view, include Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, Nissan's CEO Carlos Ghosn, and even Jonathan Browning, the now-departed president of Volkswagen's North American operations.

He "didn't care" what those executives said about the prospects for hydrogen vehicles, Carter said, and compared the negative views of hydrogen fuel-cell cars to those directed toward the Prius in its first generation.

And as for the necessary network of fueling stations, Carter said it would come over time, provided by public-private partnerships.

MORE: Toyota FCV Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Test Cars, Concept Shown At CES

He noted that the state of California has recently funded a few dozen such stations, which will be required when Toyota launches its first low-volume hydrogen vehicle next year.

Hyundai will actually beat Toyota to market, with a hydrogen-fueled conversion of its Tucson compact crossover utility vehicle, which will arrive at selected dealerships this spring.

The irony of his remarks is that Toyota itself owns a small stake in Tesla Motors, though that deal was negotiated between Japanese CEO Akio Toyoda, not the U.S. operations for which Carter works.

MORE: 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell: Hydrogen Crossover First Drive

While the company does offer a plug-in electric version of its RAV4 EV, that vehicle is built only in low volumes and offered only in California. Its powertrain, by the way, was engineered by Tesla.

Still, in Toyota's view, the future of the green car lies in hydrogen fuel cells, not in plug-in electric vehicles recharged from the electric grid.

And there you have it. Again.

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