2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, Newport Beach, CA, Nov 2014
Toyota does not like battery-electric cars, and the world's largest carmaker isn't shy about that sentiment.
Through numerous ads and statements from its executives, the carmaker has repeatedly criticized the short ranges and long charging times of battery-electric vehicles.
Instead, Toyota suggests that hybrids--in which it leads the industry--and its upcoming 2016 Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car will jointly be the right way to cut energy use.
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The company's latest anti-battery paean comes from the Mirai's chief engineer, Yoshikazu Tanaka.
At a recent test-drive event, he said electric cars won't spread, even if much faster charging stations are developed, according to Reuters Canada.
Mass use of fast charging would overwhelm the grid, he said.
2016 Toyota Mirai
Even if technology were developed to charge a 310-mile car in 12 minutes, the Toyota executive said, it would probably end up "using up electricity required to power 1,000 houses."
In other words, battery-powered cars will hog all of the electricity.
"Toyota isn't denying the benefits of EVs," Tanaka went on to say. But the company thinks grid capacity will inevitably impose a cap on range and charging times.
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The company believes electric cars are only viable on a large scale if they are recharged at night and driven only short distances during the day, Tanaka said.
He said hydrogen has the advantage of being portable, and is much easier to store than electricity.
And, as the most abundant element in the universe, Tanaka noted that it can be extracted from many sources.
2016 Toyota Mirai
He cited a new fueling station in the southern Japanese city of Fukuoka as an example.
The station dispenses hydrogen that has been extracted from sewage, and can reportedly fuel 70 Mirai sedans a day.
At the moment, Toyota is pushing the renewable-hydrogen angle energetically.
It recently launched a campaign, "Fueled by Everything," that will feature videos showing different methods of hydrogen production.
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Today, fewer than 50 public hydrogen fueling stations are operatingin the U.S.--against tens of thousands of electric-car charging stations--although the state of California, Toyota, and Honda are jointly funding the development of more such stations.
Hydrogen cars retain an advantage in range and quick refueling times over today's battery-electric vehicles.
Still, hydrogen infrastructure is both more complex and more costly to install than DC quick-charging stations.
More common Level 2 electric-car charging stations can attach directly to the existing grid infrastructure.
But with Toyota convinced the Mirai will have as big an impact on the industry as its original Prius hybrid did--and electric cars threatening the Prius hybrid's advanced-technology positioning--it's likely that Toyota will continue its critique of electric cars.