By on October 14, 2015

2016-toyota-mirai-front-three-quarters-03

Toyota officials insisted Wednesday that its hydrogen-powered cars, such as the Mirai, will comprise up to 30,000 sales by 2020, and will help the automaker eventually reduce emissions from cars it produces by 90 percent by 2050.

The Associated Press (via Detroit News) reported that the automaker said it would work with investors and governments to deliver on its promise of producing only a small number of gasoline-powered cars for small countries in 35 years.

“You may think 35 years is a long time. But for an automaker to envision all combustion engines as gone is pretty extraordinary,” Senior Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise said, according to the AP.

Toyota said that batteries still take too long to charge, despite advancements by other automakers. Carmakers such as Nissan, Volkswagen and others have said that electric vehicles — not hydrogen — may be a better bet for future cars, despite Toyota’s reservations.

Toyota, alongside other Japanese manufacturers including Honda and Nissan, recently announced a jointly developed project to subsidize hydrogen stations in Japan up to $89,000 per year.

Last year, Toyota sold 1,500 hydrogen-powered Mirais in Japan. The automaker began taking reservations for the Mirai in California — the only state where it will be sold — in July.

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91 Comments on “Toyota Banks on Hydrogen – Not EV – For Future Power...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    It makes sense to view battery powered cars as an interim measure. I’ve read that we will run out of electrical generating capacity at current global growth rates.

    • 0 avatar

      1st I doubt we will run out of electricity.

      2nd. If that’s true (which it isn’t) it takes considerably more electricity to sequester Hydrogen from Natural Gas or via electrolysis than it would be to simply charge an EV overnight. If electricity is at a premium, that’s all the more argument *against* Hydrogen Vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Indeed, that’s why these “Toyota taking their focus away electric vehicles” articles are pointless. The hydrogen concept is basically just another type of electrical storage. It’s not like if somebody comes out with some new battery that solves capacity issues and is affordable, they won’t rip the fuel cell out and install the battery.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          It looks good to the masses because most don’t understand that a hydrogen car is nothing more than an electric vehicle with hydrogen tank/fuel cell instead of a battery.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “it takes considerably more electricity to sequester Hydrogen from Natural Gas or via electrolysis than it would be to simply charge an EV overnight.”

        And that’s the just of it, isn’t it? Hydrogen get’s us quicker re-fuel times, but is less efficient and will probably always be more costly than a battery. Currently electricity is everywhere in the US, hydrogen, not so much.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          Hydrogen doesn’t always give you quicker fueling times. Some, if not all, of current hydrogen stations require recovery time after fueling one or two cars. If you’re the third car, you might be screwed.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Thanks for the clarification.

          My comment about running out of electricity was based on global reports.

          One issue about electricity use is how it is generated. I’m not sure what the percentage is in the USA for coal generation or other “dirty” fuels. In some cases we are just substituting one pollution source for another.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            As of last year, coal was 39%. It’s declining, a number of coal plants were retired this spring, mostly in favor of natural gas.

            The point about running out of electricity is mostly a nonstarter, as there is plenty of unused capacity overnight, which is when EVs should be charged. In some circumstances, there is surplus electricity that goes to waste at certain times of day, and can be used to charge EVs at no environmental cost.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Have a link on the coal plants?

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            2014 source of electricity: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3

            September 2015 source of electricity: http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=23252

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Forbes had reported that since 1990 electricity consumption was up 25% but infrastructure investment in the USA was up only 7%.
            I personally thought consumption would of been higher.

            In BC where I live we tend to send a lot of electricity south in the summer which helps offset increased demand due to running A/C. We in turn consume more electricity in the winter for heating.

          • 0 avatar

            Electric generation peaked in 2008 then started to decline slowly.

            More efficient appliances and increased generation of solar power at the point of consumption have contributed to the flattening of electric demand.

            Electric companies are (or should be) looking forward to BEV’s, they’ll be able to keep selling their power rather than watch their industry stagnate.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the link.

        • 0 avatar
          raffi14

          Hydrogen makes no sense in consumer vehicles because it has to be compressed to 10000 psi to get any decent range.

  • avatar
    WhiskeyRiver

    If Toyota would develop the Caltech hydrogen from water device, these things would sell like hotcakes.

    Imagine a car you fuel up with your garden hose.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Toyota/Scion (even Lexus of late) exterior designers TROLL HARD.

    • 0 avatar
      Waftable Torque

      Just the exterior designers?

      We’ve been a Toyota household since 1984, and I swear their designers have worked hard to discourage Toyota/Lexus #11 for our family.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    They say these are zero emissions, that they only emit water, but what are the consequences of millions of cars emitting water into the air? I would imagine it could alter the weather.

    Does a place like Houston really need more water in the air in July?

    • 0 avatar

      HA ha

      Yes water vapor is a more impactful green house gas than CO2 :-)

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I talked about this about 10 years ago with a Ford engineer who was working on their hydrogen program. He thought it was funny, and agreed that it will likely happen if hydrogen takes off.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      The evaporation from 71% of earth covered in water completely dwarfs a little water coming out of tailpipes. Gasoline burning cars also emit water: carbon and hydrogen (gasoline) combine with oxygen (in the air) to yield carbon dioxide and water during combustion.

      Water, which is an enormously powerful green house gas, also leaves the atmosphere very readily. Thus the water in the atmosphere is in balance. This is unlike carbon dioxide, which takes decades or more. Water leaving the atmosphere is such a common thing we even have a name for the process: rain!

    • 0 avatar
      benders

      Water vapor is already part of your exhaust.

      2(C8H18) + 25(O2) in -> 16(CO2) + 18(H2O) out.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I agree that’s a detail people actively ignore.

      Yes, gasoline emits water vapor, but hydrogen emits around 2.5x as much. (Given 1 kg = 1 gal gas & a FCV gets twice the efficiency of gasoline)

      The argument that the oceans evaporate, that the water cycle is completely natural, etc., all sound like the arguments for CO2, and we know how that turned out. (That doesn’t mean water vapor is an issue, just that those arguments saying it is not an issue likely aren’t valid.)

      The example I can’t ignore is the weather after 9/11 where aircraft were grounded across the US. Measurable fewer clouds, brighter sunlight, higher high temps during the day & lower low temps at night, all strongly suggest that planes–and specifically the contrails from their exhaust–have a dramatic effect on weather. Of course, that’s planes at high altitude, not ground-level cars. Also, it could have been caused by CO2 or some other chemical in their exhaust, not water vapor. Since we won’t do an experiment where we ground all planes again, we can’t even verify the data.

      The conclusions I take are:
      – Water vapor and clouds have a high effect on weather & temperature.
      – Water in exhaust has a real effect.
      – Directly replacing gasoline with hydrogen (from a non-CO2 emitting source) will decrease the effect of CO2, but increase the effect of water vapor.
      – There will be unintended consequences. (They may be good or bad; I don’t know. I only conclude there will be effects that are not currently a part of the discussion.)

      That’s one reason I support battery EVs instead of hydrogen EVs–they should have fewer unintended consequences.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine


        The example I can’t ignore is the weather after 9/11 where aircraft were grounded across the US. Measurable fewer clouds, brighter sunlight, higher high temps during the day & lower low temps at night, all strongly suggest that planes–and specifically the contrails from their exhaust–have a dramatic effect on weather. Of course, that’s planes at high altitude, not ground-level cars. Also, it could have been caused by CO2 or some other chemical in their exhaust, not water vapor. Since we won’t do an experiment where we ground all planes again, we can’t even verify the data.”

        Not to contradict you, but where I live between DC and NYC, we saw a 5° DROP in daytime temperatures, not a rise during that week. That’s how I KNOW we’re affecting this Global Warming issue.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          EDIT: Never mind, I reread your comment. That’s what I get for not double-checking.

        • 0 avatar

          A variance of 5F from one week to another doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

          To assert that because A happened and then the following week B happened, therefore they are connected is rather presumptuous. Especially when a temp variance of 5F isn’t out of the ordinary. Correlation and causation are very very different.

          This weekend it is forecast to be clear with no fronts coming through. But the daytime high will go from 62F to 70F in two days. Is that due to human activity? No. Its the weather.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        It was clear before all the aircraft were grounded too. That was part of the reason that landing all of the aircraft in the US on 9/11 went so well.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Depending on where you are, bball, you’re wrong. While sunny, it was hazy at least where I live. For that five-day period the sky got very clean and blue, not washed out. It looked like a cold front had come through, yet no weather systems did. In fact, a rain event forecast for the weekend simply vanished because there was less pollution to help it grow.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    Um, a hydrogen-powered vehicle IS an EV!

    Why not change the “EV” to “BEV” in the headline?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    To me, on board H2 storage is the biggest remaining obstacle to a practical fuel cell car. Pure H2 takes very high pressures (7,000 pisg) to store 300 miles worth of range in a reasonable volume. This high pressure storage and delivery system increases the price of the fuel cell drive train, and adds a safety concern when the car is stored in an enclosed space, i.e, garage.
    Once the high pressure storage problem is solved, fuel cell vehicles will have a distinct advantage over ICE or EVs in that they produce only H20 as a byproduct.
    All we need to go along with this is to generate the H2 from H20 via electrolysis powered by either/or nuclear and renewable sources. No more CO2 from transport.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Yup. You think that EVs and hybrid vehicles are dangerous due to their high-voltage batteries? Check out this Honda Civic CNG tank explosion that happened in the Seattle area back in 2007:

      http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/general/t-cng-honda-civic-car-fireexplosion-dialup-warning-many-photos-7555.html

      This is a link to a discussion thread:

      http://www.cleanmpg.com/forums/general/t-cng-explosion-discussion-thread-7556.html#post57338

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Using electricity to produce hydrogen gas is dreadfully inefficient. If you have electricity, you’re better off storing it in a battery, it will get you a lot farther than if you use it to produce hydrogen.

      • 0 avatar
        King of Eldorado

        FormerFF: Yes, that’s the answer I get when I suggest vast offshore windmill farms producing hydrogen via electrolysis of seawater. I’m told it’s so inefficient that it would never cover the cost of the infrastucture.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          If you have vast offshore windmill farms, yes it is better to just use them to produce electricity for the grid.

          We’d be able to drive 4x as far (or build 1/4 as many windmills to drive the same distance) using batteries instead of hydrogen.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I keep thinking the Japanese Big 3 have something secret up their sleeves, like on-board reformation from ammonia to produce the hydrogen. Otherwise, the storage issues, both in vehicles and in filling stations, will be very hard to overcome in a cost effective way any time soon.

      • 0 avatar
        raffi14

        No one is going to produce H2 from electrolysis, that’s ridiculous. H2 is pushed because the Japanese government wants to tap the large deposits of methane hydrates off their coasts and is heavily subsidizing hydrogen vehicles to try and get a market going.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          I think methane hydrates are more useful for extracting natural gas rather than producing hydrogen.

          I’m with @ClutchCarGo — hydrogen doesn’t make sense unless the Japanese Big 3 have something up their sleeves. Or maybe this is just a coordinated FUD campaign against battery electric vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            raffi14

            You end up with hydrogen as a byproduct apparently.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            Yes, methane (CH4) has lots of hydrogen, but it makes more sense to use that methane in a car that can run on compressed natural gas (Honda Civic) , which in itself is a clean vehicle.

            Why go to the expense of further synthesis to get H2? Evidently, it’s not really about being clean. It’s time to follow the money.

          • 0 avatar
            raffi14

            I agree it makes more sense to use methane than hydrogen. Hydrogen just allows them market it as a clean, zero-emission car, whereas methane does not. It’s all about marketing.

      • 0 avatar
        benders

        The Japanese ace up the sleeve is government subsidies to the tune of $20k for every car.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/19/us-japan-autos-fuelcells-idUSKBN0FO09F20140719

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        If you have methane, converting it to CO2 + H2 and using the H2 in a fuel cell *is* an efficient process, maybe more efficient than just burning the methane in an ICE (at least that’s what reports I’ve seen say).

        The problem I have with the approach is:
        – You still produce just as much CO2; however, it if you have a sequestration method, it’s easier to execute at a single hydrogen production facility than in every car. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have a sequestration solution, so that’s purely academic.
        – Why add the cost of a fuel cell? Why add the cost of additional infrastructure when natural gas is already built out?

        I agree that the Japanese car companies are doing it to please their govt. I don’t know why their govt pushes it so hard, though.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I’m not that worried about pressure vessels. We have a lot experience building them to be safe.

      Powering cars requires storing a lot of energy (assuming we don’t use in-road induction charging or something else that takes the energy source off the car), and storing lots of energy has hazards.

      Gasoline is much more dangerous than we tend to think. Just think if EVs were dominant and ICEs were just being introduced–how freaked out would people be the first time they saw gasoline leak & catch fire?

      But batteries are a danger, too. Look at those Volt & Fisker fires. There’s also the hazard of electrocution, particularly for EMS trying to extract people from a crashed car.

      No option is without risk. But I am confident that high pressure storage can be at least as safe as what we currently have.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Somewhere in this discussion, Redav, there’s a link to an example of a CNG Honda involved in an arson case. Even with carbon-fiber casing, when the fuel got hot, the tank exploded–wiping out not only that car but one to either side as well. The link includes photos.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Something like 95% of hydrogen is produced from natural gas. And it takes a massive amount of electricity to compress and chill it, it and you also expend energy to keep it cooled. The infrastructure challenges of building hydrogen stations everywhere seem absurd.

    It’s just a pretty clear cut case of the government incentives distorting technology to go in a really dumb direction.

    Just running on natural gas makes a lot more sense, but for many dumb regulators, they see water coming out of a tailpipe and think hydrogen must have zero downside.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      And this is exactly why the energy companies are welcoming hydrogen-powered vehicles; they will still be providing the power to fuel them. That is not necessarily the case with BEVs.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        Regardless of what we use for transportation, an energy company is going to benefit. It just depends on what kind of energy. A battery powered car gets its electricity from an electric utility that generates electricity from coal, natural gas or nuclear.

        Something like 1% of the grid is solar, the idea that we could ever have enough solar panels to generate all of our electricity needs plus use it to charge all of our cars is foolish and another government boondoggle. You would need to cover entire states in solar panels to get even close.

        For some reason, people think its cleaner when the car itself isn’t polluting, but the reality is your just moving the numbers to a different side of the ledger, and in many cases, this illusion is actually causing more energy to be wasted. And crony businesses and lobbyists are laughing all the way to the bank.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          “Regardless of what we use for transportation, an energy company is going to benefit”

          Unfortunately, big oil companies do not view themselves as big energy. They know how find, refine, and distribute oil, so it’s in their interest to support transportation that uses oil, and to discourage alternatives.

          Locally, air really is cleaner when cars aren’t polluting. It’s easier to scrub and control one polluting refinery than it is to scrub and control millions of polluting cars that can go almost anywhere.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          A few comments:
          – In 2014, 7% of US electricity came from renewables. In 2011, it was under 5%. It will continue to grow. I don’t know how much, but 20% seems more than reasonable.
          – Coal is rapidly being replaced with natural gas. While that doesn’t seem like a big deal, it illustrates that one change at the source makes all the EVs it powers instantly cleaner. Good luck doing the same thing with all those VWs. In other words, EVs have easily upgradeable emissions, while ICEs don’t.
          – Yes, EVs shift pollution to power plants, but counting that, EVs create less pollution than the majority of cars, even in coal-heavy locations. And given how a power plant upgrade instantly upgrades EVs, I’d rather solve pollution at a single source than at millions of sources.

          Would we have to cover entire states to power the US with solar? let’s assume:
          – US uses 4.75*10^12 kWh/yr (based on Wikipedia)
          – Industrial PV are rated for at least 15 W / ft^2 (from PVWatts calculator)
          – In Phoenix, solar will produce around 1728 kWh/rated kW/yr (from PVWatts calculator)

          Those numbers result in just over 6500 sq mi of solar panels to power the entire country. Yes, that’s about 20% larger than Connecticut. But how much roof space does the US have? If the US has ~100M residences, and those residences average 1000 sq ft of useable area for solar, that’s already over 3500 sq mi, and it doesn’t count work sites, parking lots, etc. So area doesn’t seem to be the biggest problem.

          How about cost? I priced some systems in my area using the Open PV Project, and I was shocked to see that PV can now be had for ~$0.13/kWh. And that’s fixed for the next 25-30 yrs, so no worries about inflation.

          Obviously, we’re not going to go all-solar, but at those prices, I see no reason solar won’t become common in the south, southwest, & mountain areas.

          • 0 avatar

            @Redav

            Nice analysis on the solar footprint.

            Let’s not forget solar isn’t the only renewable available to us. As much as I like solar from a technical and aesthetic perspective, I have to acknowledge that wind scales better than solar which is why it is growing faster than solar.

      • 0 avatar

        @redmondjp

        Precisely!!

        One of the biggest manufacturers and consumers of hydrogen gas are the oil refineries!! Oil companies already have the know how and large scale equipment to produce hydrogen in volume.

        Oil companies would like to keep us coming back to their ‘gas stations’ for 100% of our vehicle fueling requirements. The fact its less efficient or hugely expensive to do is of no concern, they have to keep the ring through our noses at all costs.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Yes, but this way Toyota can truthfully say their cars emit nothing at all that’s harmful. Like BEVs, all the emissions come from someone else’s facility.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I don’t think there is an intent to liquify (chill) the hydrogen for these applications. They may liquify for pipelines–I saw a concept that merges that with superconducting electrical transmission lines. (I don’t like that idea because if you lose refrigeration or containment, everything goes to hell.)

      Compressing a gas does make it increase in temperature, but I don’t think any refrigeration would be necessary. We just did some 20,000 psi gas testing in our shop and we saw the steel pressure vessel increase in temperature by 0.2 deg F. (The gas heated up more than that, but that’s not really a concern–heat conducts away until everything is at the same temperature.)

      Cars & hydrogen stations would presumably simply use compressed hydrogen, which doesn’t need chilling. But if they need a lot more capacity, then liquifying might be needed, and then yes, that’s a big endeavor. Hydrogen is a gas with a low enough critical temperature that you have first cool it quite a bit so that you can then compress it into a liquid–simply squeezing it won’t work. The first attempts to get liquid hydrogen liquified another gas to use as a coolant to then liquify the hydrogen.

      I’m more concerned by the fact that hydrogen leaks out of everything. Note that every refinery uses spherical tanks for their hydrogen. Toyota may not notice or care about leakage out of their cars’ tanks, but hydrogen stations & pipelines would. That’s just more losses to an already inefficient system. And hydrogen is an indirect GHG, so that’s not good, either.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    As usual, the problem with this is infrastructure. It’s much easier to do a charging station (since it’s essentially a big electrical socket) than a hydrogen delivery station.

    Overall I think hydrogen shows more promise. Truly zero emission, and no batteries to replace, and no charging times! You still have an engine, and you still visit a pump. It’s 100% more familiar to consumers than the EV route.

    Wonder what happened to the GM hydrogen cell development and vehicle which James May drove on Top Gear around 2005?

    ^ Ronnie article suggestion.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      “Zero emission” but they emit water. How much water? I’d imagine a lot more than a gasoline engine. Is that OK?

      What happens in a Chicago traffic jam in the winter, when it’s 10 degrees out, and all the cars are sitting there with steam coming out of the tailpipes?

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Current gasoline and diesel vehicles also produce water vapor in quantity.

        • 0 avatar
          nels0300

          How much water vapor does gasoline vs hydrogen emit?

          You already get black ice from the water vapor from gas exhaust, would it be the same, less, or worse with hydrogen?

          I’m honestly curious because it’s never brought up. If they emit a lot of water it could be an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        “What happens in a Chicago traffic jam in the winter,”

        Move the traffic jam to California and the drought problem is solved. That’s where zero emissions vehicles are found anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      You do realize that Hydrogen cars are electric cars at the core and have traction batteries just like a BEV. They will need their batteries replacing just as often.

      When thinking Mirai, think Volt with the engine replaced by a fuel cell.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        The Volt also has the capability to be externally charged and run on battery for 30+ miles. From what I can tell the Mirai has a battery similar in size to a hybrid car, and no capability for external charging.

        I’d say it’s more like a Prius than a Volt.

  • avatar
    carve

    Hydrogen has about 25% of the well-to-wheel efficiency of battery electric vehicles. It is related to the fundamental physics of energy generation, fuel-cell physics and 1/3 of the energy right off the top being required to compress the stuff, so this will not substantially change.

    The advantages are a quicker re-charge time and, potentially, a lighter, cheaper energy storage device (offset by the expensive fuel cell), but that gap is narrowing on those fronts all the time while they’re pretty much maxed out with hydrogen.

    Also, hydrogen has the disadvantage of requiring a completely new infrastructure, and can’t be transported by pipeline or powerline- it must be trucked everywhere. This is a non-starter, really.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      No, you are wrong about the infrastructure. We have it now, it’s called the natural gas pipeline system.

      The Hydrogen will be reformed locally. More remote areas will be served by the existing compressed gas suppliers.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        Steam reformation of natural gas requires high temperatures and lots of energy. I wouldn’t bet on it being produced in relatively small quantities on a local level, it’s a large scale industrial process with an potential for disaster if not properly maintained and controlled.

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        You’d be better off just powering cars from the natural gas then. It’d be much quicker and cheaper to implement and the fuel is more storable.

        By reforming the natural gas on site, compressing it to a liquid, and running it through a fuel cell you’re still going to wind up with about 1/4 of the usable energy compared to just building a mini-power-station on site and charging batteries.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          They’been running cars and trucks on LNG and LPG for decades in Europe without any ill effects.

          Back then LPG was cheapest to buy but gave the shortest driving range. LNG was also cheaper than gasoline but gave a shorter driving range than gasoline or diesel as well.

          Nothing beats gasoline and diesel for energy stored.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          No one is planning on liquefying the hydrogen. They will have to compress the bejeesus out of it, but it will be stored as a gas.

          • 0 avatar

            “Natural gas has a higher energy density than hydrogen gas”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle#Natural_gas

            So the extraction of Hydrogen from Natural gas actually ‘unpacks’ the inherent energy density with hydrogen being 3 times less energy dense and then it becomes necessary to pressurize hydrogen gas to 10,000 psi to put it into a Mirai. Smart. Really smart.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Toyota may have decided that hydrogen is the way to go, but thermodynamics has other ideas. Hydrogen production is too wasteful, and it’s a PITA to deal with once you’ve separated it from whatever you started with.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    1) “… the automaker said it would work with investors and governments to deliver…”
    In other words, they want governments to subsidize the installation of infrastructure.

    2) “… jointly developed project to subsidize hydrogen stations in Japan up to $89,000 per year.”
    Which wouldn’t even pay for a single station, much less the hundreds that would be needed if Toyota succeeds in making HFC popular.

    Personally, while I do see the potential, there are incredible drawbacks as well, not the least of which is that until they can make that hydrogen out of something other than hydrocarbons, the cost of fuel will remain high… if not higher than gasoline even before this last year’s reduced cost. The BEV may have that fuel cost up front in the price of the battery, but with electric rates roughly 25% that of even the current price of gasoline per mile, the savings goes into your pocket every time you recharge a BEV.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    A couple of points that are being missed here:

    -The Japanese government is pushing for fuel cell innovation. The big picture is that the government is trying to get Japan ahead of the curve in the fuel cell industry generally, and is simply using cars as a launch pad for innovation.

    -Toyota already knows how to build EVs, so it need not bother with a costly R&D program to produce cars that would lose money due to the inadequacies of batteries. If an improved battery or other type of power storage is developed, then it will likely come from outside of the auto industry, such as a university laboratory, and TMC can jump on board once it exists.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      That’s because they need an excuse to justify nuclear power’s future: hydrogen production via pyrolysis hydrogen production. Without a massive number of fuelcell vehicle they wouldn’t have need for nuclear power.

      Why do they need nuclear power? For one it is energy independence, but for two I think they want enough nuclear waste to produce Pu239, just in case they suddenly want war heads.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    In a highly populated, compact nation like Japan, which has to import basically every drop of fossil fuel they get, moving to Hydrogen makes sense. If you look at expanding global markets like China and India, it also makes sense in their clogged urban centers.

    For the United States, in certain urban centers it makes sense, but for broader areas, it doesn’t.

    Just as you won’t likely drive any EV cross country over flyover states on a weekly basis (not saying NO ONE would, just saying ICE has distinct advantages over long distance driving) you aren’t going to see hydrogen power.

    It is interesting that Toyota, a leader in hybrid systems is skipping over batteries, ended their relationship with Tesla, and is moving to hydrogen.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Toyota worked with Tesla in order to dump the NUMMI plant. It was mutually beneficial at the time: Tesla would have failed had Toyota not provided it with the Fremont plant, while Toyota would have had a far more costly exit from NUMMI due to the GM bankruptcy throwing a wrench in the works.

      Toyota is not particularly serious about EVs because of the limitations of batteries. As an automaker, it can’t fix the battery problem.

    • 0 avatar

      Skipping over batteries? You have it backwards!!

      The pure BEV is the end product of vehicle evolution. Hybrid technology is only the first step away from pure fossil fuels.

      Here is how I see vehicle evolution.

      ICE –> Hybrid –> Plug-in Hybrid –> Plug-in

      At each stage of the evolution, the battery gets bigger and reliance on an engine diminishes.

      http://jpwhitenissanleaf.com/2014/12/04/evolution-of-electric-and-hydrogen-vehicles-what-is-the-future/

      BEV’s skip over hydrogen!!

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Toyota developed the hybrid because a battery without internal combustion is inadequate. Without improvements to the power storage, the appeal of EVs will continue to be limited to just a niche.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Well put, I completely agree and have argued as such.

        • 0 avatar

          @PCH101

          At this time any alternative fuel vehicle can be considered niche, including the Hybrid.

          Last month 32,106 hybrids were sold, not surprisingly Toyota took the crown of that Niche. This sales level represents 2.3% of the total car market.

          Plug-in hybrids are newer technology and not as mature. Just 3,038 of those were sold, representing 0.2% of the market. Not surprisingly GM took the crown.

          BEV’s however fared better with 6,704 sold representing 0.5% of the market. Not surprisingly Telsa took the crown.

          All together, hybrid+plugin hybrid+BEV add up to 3% of the market. They are all niche cars at this point.

          Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and BEV’s are emergent technologies. None have “crossed the chasm” into mainstream adoption/acceptance.

          Which will cross the chasm into mainstream acceptance first? I’ll put my money on BEV’s, the alternatives are too complicated.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “All together, hybrid+plugin hybrid+BEV add up to 3% of the market.”

            That figure is dominated by conventional hybrids.

            “I’ll put my money on BEV’s, the alternatives are too complicated.”

            Hybrids are not particularly complicated. You seem to be eager to invent a problem that doesn’t exist.

            In any case, hybrids exist because the power storage for electric cars is inadequate. If that problem is solved, then it won’t be difficult for automakers to start churning out EVs and consumers will surely buy them. But that may never happen.

          • 0 avatar
            PandaBear

            As a world economy in balance, I’d agree with you. However the raw material for battery (Li, graphite, Nickel, etc) are not originated in Japan so any cartel or monopoly of the supply chain could drive them out of business (China? Brazil?).

            If fuelcell becomes popular and hydrogen is made via nuclear plant pyrolysis process, then they would have the upper hand when / if someone decided to stop supplying the rest of the world with these critical raw materials.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            With the 200 mile+ batteries, I think the batteries are fine. The real problem is the charging infrastructure. We need more charging on long distance travel routes and more powerful (faster) chargers.

            As far as lithium supplies go, there are US mines:
            http://www.westernlithium.com/

  • avatar
    Luke42

    I respect the two I own.

    But, for new car money, electric is my first choice. Hybrid is my second choice.

    So I probably won’t be buying a new Toyota, unless they start selling a hybrid Sienna or Tacoma.

    That’s a bummur, because my Toyota cars and dealer have treated me well!

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    I’ve had two Toyotas which I’ve been happy with but this hydrogen direction has really altered my opinion of the company. It feels like they’re cramming FCEVs down our throats because they finally made the technology work, not because it makes any sense in regards to energy efficiency, environmental benefit, or cost of ownership.

    Given that hydrogen comes from natural gas or electrolysis it’s either the same old petroleum overlords or a huge waste of electricity. It takes 3x as much electricity to provide a given amount of travel on hydrogen as it does in a battery electric vehicle.

    I recently moved to a BEV with a 100 mile range and even with that it’s fantastically convenient to fuel and inexpensive to operate. The car is full every morning for a third of what gasoline cost me. When the affordable 200+ mile BEVs hit the market in 18 months I can’t see many consumers choosing H2 instead. I don’t see the appeal in moving back to a model of traveling to fueling stations again, particularly with lower availability than gasoline.

  • avatar
    Nick Engineer

    Toyota has a much longer horizon. They want to be an early entrant and key player into what may be a future market. Now that they are strong they are positioning themselves in all the right ways to keep selling the next iteration of renewables-powered vehicles. There is no final technology yet, but if there is ever going to be one it won’t come from sitting on the sidelines waiting for it to appear.

    (Compare and contrast with VW who shunned electric motors in favor of diesel).

    They are acting exactly the way any smart company would as they are poised to thrive in the future. Emissions are the Achilles heel of ICE and will become an even bigger challenge in the future.

    FCEVs are a huge risk now, but if they wait until it becomes less risky they won’t have first dibs on the market.

    Think back to when they went hybrid. It was a huge risk but they took it and reaped expertise, steady increase in market share, and easier CAFE standards compliance (this last one is huge for anyone who assumes the future of emissions standards is predictable).

    I wouldn’t discount their strategy as misplaced. They have done it before exceptionally well. They have the playbook. Any company that wants to have a future (ahem, VW) should shadow them and copy them and differentiate on styling, offerings, etc.

    And by the way, I personally don’t like Toyotas that much.

    • 0 avatar

      “Toyota has a much longer horizon. They want to be an early entrant and key player into what may be a future market.”

      I don’t doubt this is their strategy and thought process. So why hydrogen vs some of the alternatives? The Mirai is essentially a hybrid vehicle. Toyota are world leaders at hybrid vehicles. It’s their strong suit. They are banking on Hydrogen becoming a viable market and as you point out, they’ll be way ahead of everyone else using hybrid technology.

      If hydrogen doesn’t live up to its promise. They just lost the bet.

      I believe they are limiting themselves to hybrid technology and not looking far enough ahead to the future car marketplace and may find themselves left behind by the more visionary companies.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      The problem with the fuel cell vehicle is that the production of hydrogen is inefficient. I could see the point if hydrogen gas were readily available somewhere, but it’s not, it has to be extracted from somewhere else, and loses energy in the process. The thermodynamics of the process are working against its usefulness. I don’t doubt that Toyota can solve the technical challenge of building a fuel cell car, they might even be able to make it cost effective, but there’s still that pesky problem of producing, and distributing, hydrogen gas, and there’s no reason to believe that’s solvable, physics and thermodynamics appear to be stacked against it.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    The Question Nobody Asked:

    Can I get that sexy marvel with a plain old ICE so I can drive it immediately and anywhere?!

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    As there will never ever be a Toyota in my or families driveway this is a non issue.

  • avatar
    415s30

    I saw that car at the Megaweb and I was really wondering what they were thinking, uh electrolysis? Making the fuel vs electricity seems dumb.

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