Toyota has unveiled its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that will be available for sale to California customers in summer 2015. The Toyota FCV four-door sedan is forward-looking with its blending of traditional sleek styling and aggressive futuristic exterior touches.
This is quite a departure from the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell now on sale in California that packages hydrogen fuel cell power within a conventional-looking Tucson SUV. Honda took a more middle-of-the-road approach with its FCX Clarity fuel cell sedan that it began leasing to limited numbers of California customers in 2008, offering an advanced body design that, while not necessarily wildly futuristic, did preview many of the styling cues that would show up in Honda’s model lineup in future years.
Like its fuel cell competitors, the Toyota FCV is driven by electric motors powered by electricity electrochemically generated by a hydrogen fuel cell. Since there is no combustion, no CO2 is produced and the car emits only water vapor. The Toyota FCV is expected to travel 300 miles on a tank of hydrogen, providing the advantages of an electric car without the limitations of short driving range. Refueling is said to take less than five minutes.
While hydrogen fueling opportunities are admittedly sparse these days, Toyota is working toward a solution in California through its partnership with FirstElement Fuels. The aim is to support the long-term operation and maintenance of 19 new hydrogen refueling stations in that state, accessible by all model fuel cell vehicles. The availability of hydrogen fueling will determine where automakers initially offer their first fuel cell vehicles, thus the interest in California.