Toyota has announced its latest endeavor into environmentally friendly vehicles last week, their first hydrogen fuel cell commercial car known simply as the FCV (short for fuel cell vehicle). The 2015 sedan, modeled after the concept revealed at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, is launching in Japan initially for roughly $70,000.
This is a big move for Toyota, moving away from the increasingly popular electric car model and introducing yet another alternative energy source into the commercial driving world. The fuel cell vehicle uses the same hybrid technology utilized in the Prius, but with hydrogen and a fuel cell stack that emit only water vapor while providing a driving experience equivalent of a gasoline engine.
The pricing and positioning of the car put it right in line with Tesla’s Model S, its anticipated competitor in the alternative energy vehicle market., The Toyota vehicle has some advantages that set it apart from Tesla. With a cruising range of 430 miles and a charging time of just 3 minutes (about the same for refueling a gasoline car), Toyota sits well above Tesla’s 265-mile range and 9-hour charging time. However, with charging stations only being introduced in California (and experimentally at that) it’s hard to see how Toyota could catch up to Tesla’s swiftly growing refueling network.
The design for the fuel cell sedan has been finalized, with the end result looking very similar to the car shown at CES in January. Toyota has yet to choose exact specifications and pricing per region for the vehicle, but they should be announced in the coming months.
The fuel cell car will make its debut in Japan in April 2015, with its American debut following shortly thereafter in summer 2015. While the vehicle definitely has some very promising qualities that rank it around the likes of Tesla, the real challenge Toyota needs to overcome will be the creation of a support infrastructure prior to the car’s arrival in America so that the FCV sedan can be convenient to drive on a daily basis.
[ Sources: The Verge, Mashable, Toyota ]