Instead of choosing between a V-6 and a V-8, could future car buyers choose between batteries and fuel cells?

Soichiro Okudaira, chief officer of Toyota's R&D group, told Automotive News Europe that lower production costs will make fuel-cell vehicles competitive with electric cars by 2030.

By then, Okudaira said, fuel-cell cars will compete with other green powertrain choices for consumers' money.

When the production version of the revised FCV Concept--shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show--goes into production in 2015, Toyota hopes to sell 5,000 to 10,000 of the cars a year.

To do that, the company is banking on a significant reduction in fuel-cell costs.

When Toyota launched its first fuel-cell prototype in 2007, the entire stack and powertrain cost roughly $1,031,000. The 2015 FCV's powertrain is expected to cost about $49,000, or about half of its estimated $99,000 base price.

To help lower the system's cost, Toyota made the FCV's fuel-cell stack smaller, which reduces the amount of platinum needed.

Toyota FCV concept, 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

Toyota FCV concept, 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

The production FCV is also expected to use its fuel cells in a hybrid-style setup, rather than as the sole power source. This allowed Toyota to use more parts from its existing hybrids, further lowering costs.

The FCV will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this January.

Toyota predicts a range of around 300 miles and a refueling time of 3 minutes for the finished product.

The Toyota FCV won't be alone in showrooms in 2015. A production fuel-cell vehicle based on the Honda FCEV Concept unveiled at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show is expected to go on sale around the same time.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell will start leasing early next year.


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