A new gold rush in California is coming to the fore as private and public investments push hydrogen fuel cell technology forward, and the U.S. Department of Energy is the latest to enter the arena.
Though Toyota will soon end its battery program with Tesla for its RAV4 EV crossovers, the automaker aims to remain R&D partners on battery technology. Meanwhile, Panasonic wants to be the only producer involved in Tesla’s Gigafactory production.
After 20 years of pursuing a battery-powered future, Toyota has decided to take a different course powered by hydrogen.
Shell Report Sees "Nearly Oil-Free" Transportation by 2070, With Gasoline Replaced by Hydrogen and Electricity
For 40 years the Shell oil company has been putting out reports on what expects in the future. This year’s report titled New Lens Scenarios sees passenger road transportation being “nearly oil-free” by the year 2070. The report is in the plural, scenarios, because the futurists at Shell envision two possible outcomes, which they call “Mountains” and “Oceans”. In both scenarios the world’s population will grow to 9 billion people by 2050 and by 2070 electricity and hydrogen will be the primary means of fueling road transportation.
At a round-table discussion with reporters during last week’s Detroit Auto Show, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche proclaimed that any consumer wanting to be green with fuel cells had better be prepared for a decade of disappointment with the technology.
It doesn’t have a name yet, and the prototype that Toyota unveiled at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show was covered in camo, but the Japanese automaker promises that they will be selling a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in the United States next year. The company is claiming it will have a range of 300 miles and will refuel in less than five minutes. The Corolla sized sedan has been tested in North America’s hottest and coldest locations and Toyota says that the emissions free car will have an electric motor rated at greater than 100 kW (>130 hp) and be able to accelerate from zero to sixty miles an hour in about 10 seconds.
“We aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel; just everything necessary to make them turn,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s senior VP in charge of U.S. auto operations.
Remember this piece from the Honda Summer 2008 Hydrogen Collection? It was supposed to point the way to future of green fuel technology before the Tesla brought plug-in sex appeal down the ramp with their Roadster and, later on, the S, as well as the trend of compliance EVs from Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Kia.
But with sales of plug-in hybrids advancing far slower than originally expected regulators are taking another look at alternative ZEV powertrains.
At Hyundai’s technical center near Ann Arbor last week, the company’s CEO John Krafcik told reporters that the Korean automaker will introduce new versions of its Sonata and Genesis sedans to the U.S. market in the first half of 2014. The company will also launch a hydrogen fuel cell powered version of its Tucson crossover, sold in Europe as the ix3d, and it is expected to be unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show this week. The 2015 Sonata will likely be introduced at the New York auto show next April.
Speaking to Tesla enthusiasts at a Tesla service center in Germany, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk insisted that batteries made more sense for powering electric vehicles than hydrogen fuel cells, calling them “bullshit” and saying that hydrogen isn’t safe to use as an automotive fuel.
When it comes to fuel cell technology, everyone seems desperate to hop into bed with everyone else. The past 12 months has been a whole number of alliances; the start of 2013 saw an announcement between Toyota and BMW to partner on hydrogen technology, while Daimler, Ford and Nissan also banded together on their own fuel cell project. Now we can add Honda and GM to that list.
We’ve been saying it for years that Toyota, along with several other automakers, will launch a hydrogen fuel cell car in 2015. Two years ago, you heard it from Toyota’s Chief Engineer Satoishi Ogiso. A month ago, Toyota’s America-chief Jim Lentz promised that “the first fuel cell sedan is coming to the U.S. in 2015.” Now, Bloomberg says that “at the Tokyo Motor Show in November, Toyota plans to show a hydrogen-powered sedan that would be sold as a 2015 model.”
AutomakerS around the world seem to have colluded to turn 2015 into the Hydrogen year. Yesterday in Nagoya (a trip into which TTAC invested 21,160 yen, and the price of a bento box, no freebie jaunts in Japan) , Toyota’s NA CEO Jim Lentz confirmed that the Hydrogen Year is still on the calendar.
As one of the big dissenters from the battery-powered EV lovetrain, Hyundai is about to put its money on Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. Starting in 2015, it intends to assemble up to 10,000 units of a fuel cell-powered version of the Tucson crossover at its plant in Ulsan, South Korea.
Hydrogen does not seem on top of President Obama’s agenda, neither does it rank very high on Martin Winterkorn’s list of priorities, but it sure is popular in Japan. Japanese carmakers, led by Toyota, are targeting a 2015 launch of hydrogen cars.
Toyota also says they are the most energy-efficient.
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