Toyota has revealed the exterior design and Japanese market guide pricing of its hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Sedan, following the car’s appearance in concept form at last year’s Tokyo motor show. The four-door saloon will be introduced first in Japan, before next April. Preparations are in hand for launches in the US and European markets in the summer of 2015.
In Japan the Fuel Cell Sedan will be sold at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately seven million yen (about R700 000). Initially sales will be limited to those parts of the country where a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is under development. Prices for Europe and the USA have not yet been decided. Detailed information such as final prices, specifications and sales expectations will also be announced later.
Toyota’s commitment to developing vehicles that are kinder to the environment is based on three principles: embracing diverse energy sources; securing low vehicle emissions; and driving positive environmental change by making these vehicles popular with customers.
Hydrogen has great potential as an alternative fuel. It can be produced from a wide variety of primary energy sources, including solar and wind power; it’s easy to store and transport; and when compressed, it has a higher energy density than batteries. It could also be used in a much wider range of applications beyond automotive and domestic use, including large-scale power generation.
Toyota has been developing fuel cell vehicles in-house for more than 20 years. Its system includes a proprietary FC Stack, which generates electricity from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, and high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The technology was featured in the Toyota FCHV (fuel cell hybrid vehicle), an SUV which was leased to customers on a limited basis in Japan and the USA from 2002. (Toyota companies are also engaging in other hydrogen-related initiatives, such as developing and testing fuel cells for use in homes, and designing fuel cell forklifts and buses.)
Since then, Toyota has significantly improved its FC system. The Fuel Cell Sedan revealed today, for example, delivers performance and a cruising range similar to that of a petrol-engined vehicle, and refuelling takes roughly three minutes. When driven, the car’s only tailpipe emission is water vapour, produced by the chemical reaction between the hydrogen and oxygen.
Fuel cell vehicles contribute to the diversification of vehicle fuels. They emit no carbon dioxide or substances harmful to the environment when driven, but offer the convenience associated with petrol-powered vehicles. Toyota believes the technology has great potential in the development of vehicles that are kinder to the environment and ideal for helping deliver sustainable mobility.
Toyota South Africa’s Vice President of Marketing, Glenn Crompton, says the arrival of fuel-cell technology for cars is an exciting development as “it heralds the dawn of a new era for vehicular propulsion.
“Toyota’s leadership in the field of hybrids provides the experience needed to launch a new technology to the market in countries where the fuelling infrastructure is available,” Crompton said.
“In South Africa there are, of course, challenges ahead including development of the required infrastructure and greater customer awareness, before hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles can be offered here.
“That said, Toyota is confident that hydrogen will become increasingly popular as a way of powering vehicles around the world. Watch this space!”