Several automakers believe that fuel cell powered vehicles will become a viable solution for mass production in the distant future. In particular, Honda and General Motors have both displayed progress in development and real world testing of fuel cell powered vehicles. Toyota has also successfully tested prototype fuel cell vehicles. Toyota, never one to be left behind, now promises an "affordable" fuel cell vehicle for retail sale by 2015.
To prepare for a launch in 2015, the company will slowly roll out a fleet of test vehicles based on their latest fuel cell prototype. The vehicle is named the FCHV-adv and the test program will include more than 100 vehicles released to fleets in the U.S. The FCHV-adv is based on the Toyota Highlander converted for fuel cell vehicle usage.
Back in 2008, the Toyota vehicle was tested by the Department of Energy and the results were quite impressive. The tests showed that the FCHV-adv was capable of achieving 68 mpg with an impressive range of 431 miles.
The roll out of the fleet test vehicles will take about three years with vehicles going to corporate and government fleets in California and New York, two areas that currently support hydrogen refueling. Toyota will introduce additional vehicles to markets across the country as the infrastructure support becomes available.
Toyota has not stated what is considered to be an "affordable" vehicle and those against fuel cell vehicles believe that they will be cost prohibitive for decades. However, the company promises an affordable fuel cell by 2015 and we certainly hope they can deliver.
Source: Toyota Press Release
Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Demonstration Program Expands
More Than 100 Fuel Cell Vehicles Placed in the U.S. Over The Next 3 Years
DETROIT, January 11, 2010 - - Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. (TMS) announced today that more than 100 Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle - Advanced (FCHV-adv) vehicles will be placed in a nationwide demonstration program over the next three years.
TMS and Toyota Motor Manufacturing and Engineering North America, Inc. will place vehicles with universities, private companies and government agencies in both California and New York. Over the three year course of the demonstration program, as new hydrogen stations come online, additional regions and partners will be added. Toyota's demonstration program expansion will provide one of the largest fleets of active fuel cell vehicles in the country with the primary goal of spurring essential hydrogen infrastructure development. The demonstration program also will serve to demonstrate fuel cell technologies reliability and performance prior to its 2015 market introduction.
"We plan to come to market in 2015, or earlier, with a vehicle that will be reliable and durable, with exceptional fuel economy and zero emissions, at an affordable price," said Irv Miller, TMS group vice president of environmental and public affairs. "Toyota will not be alone in the fuel cell marketplace and building an extensive hydrogen re-fueling infrastructure is the critical next step. Hopefully, expansion of demonstration programs like this one will serve as a catalyst."
In December 2002, Toyota began limited testing of fuel cell vehicles in the U.S. and Japan. A total of 20 first generation fuel cell hybrid vehicles (FCHV) are in service in California with universities, corporations and government agencies. Toyota enlisted the University of California, Irvine, University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Davis to test different aspects of consumer acceptance and market dynamics of fuel cell vehicles. FCHV also are placed with the California Fuel Cell Partnership, a public-private partnership organization to promote the adoption of hydrogen vehicles in California.
Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell technology has advanced at an impressive pace since the FCHV introduction in 2002. Toyota engineers have consistently improved vehicle range, durability and efficiency through improvements in the fuel cell stack and the high-pressure hydrogen storage system, while achieving significant cost reductions in materials and manufacturing. When the FCHV-adv was introduced in 2008, it boasted an estimated range increase of more than 150% over the first generation FCHV.
In late 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy, Savannah River National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, approached Toyota to participate in a collaborative evaluation of the real-world driving range of the FCHV-adv. When the range evaluation was completed in 2009, the FCHV-adv averaged the equivalent of 68 mpg and achieved an estimated range of 431 miles on a single fill of hydrogen compressed gas. To compare, that's more than double the range of the Highlander Hybrid with zero emissions.
In late 2007, the technology improvements implemented in the FCHV-adv were road tested in extreme conditions on a 2,300 mile trek from Fairbanks, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia along the Alaska-Canadian (ALCAN) highway. The seven day trip confirmed substantial progress in reliability and durability, cold-weather operation and extended range capability of the hybrid fuel cell system.
Over the last decade, Toyota has focused on a broad, comprehensive advanced technology approach, with the belief that there is no single technology solution for the future. Beginning in late 2009, Toyota began delivery of 600 Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHV) for a global demonstration program. Of this initial fleet, 150 will be placed with select U.S. partners for market/consumer analysis and technical demonstration. The program will allow Toyota to gather real world vehicle-use feedback to better understand customer expectations for plug-in technology, confirm, in a wide variety of real world applications, the overall performance of first-generation lithium-ion battery technology and spur the development of public-access charging station infrastructure.
"Advanced technology demonstration programs like these are a necessary next step in societal preparation," said Miller. "They allow us the unique opportunity to inform, educate and prepare customers for the arrival of true sustainable mobility."
For additional information on Toyota's fuel cell vehicle program, visit www.sustainablemobility.co