Toyota remains the king of the hybrid car segment some 15 years after launching the first Prius hatchback. Seeking a first-mover advantage, it now has it eyes set on the infant fuel cell segment.
The Japanese automaker has revealed the production version of the fuel cell vehicle (FCV), its first-ever mass-production hydrogen-powered car. Like the first-generation Prius, the new model features a futuristic design that brings to attention its alternative powertrain. It looks nearly identical to the concept, featuring very thin headlights, massive front air dams, a high belt line, and some rather funky taillights.
The FCV measures 191 inches long, 71 inches wide and 60 inches tall, making it about the size of the third-generation Prius. It is powered by an ultra-high-tech powertrain consisting of a small fuel cell stack and two high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The tailpipe emission is water vapor, produced by the chemical reaction between the hydrogen and oxygen.
Toyota has stated in the past that the FCV will be capable of accelerating from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in a surprisingly respectable 10 seconds and delivering a maximum driving range of around 300 miles (482 km). It only takes around three minutes to completely recharge the fuel cells once they are drained.
The Toyota FCV (not its final name) will first go on sale across Japan in the second quarter of 2015 with a base price of ¥7 million (~ $68,700 / € 50,450 EUR / £ 40,500). North American and European sales begin a few months after.
Hyundai Delivers Its First Nexo Fuel Cell Vehicle
The promising hydrogen-powered SUV is off to the races!
Hyundai is celebrating the delivery of the first Nexo, the first mass-produced fuel cell SUV for North America.
The car went to Todd Hochrad of Ventura, California, a former scientist and eco car enthusiast who purchased his first hybrid car back in 2003 and has since owned various hybrid and pure electric models.
The Nexo offers an impressive driving range of up to 380 miles (612 km). For the 2019 model year, is available in two trim levels, Blue or Limited. The Blue trim level can be leased for $399, while the Limited trim level is priced at $449 for 36 months.
You can own one outright for $59,345 before any government credits and other such incentives.
The Nexo comes with the first year of maintenance for free and is eligible for a California tax credit up to $5,000. Hyundai also gives buyers hydrogen fueling cards that cover the fueling costs for the first three years.
Hyundai Invests $6.7 Billion In Hydrogen Vehicles
The Korean automaker envisions a “hydrogen society.”
While most automakers are focused on getting the most all-around performance out of electric vehicles, Hyundai still sees a future for fuel cell vehicles, so much so that it plans to invest at least $6.7 billion to bring a range of new fuel cell vehicles to market by 2030.
The massive investment is part of the company’s long-term roadmap ‘FCEV Vision 2030’ plan, which will see it produce 700,000 fuel cell systems a year. Half million of those hydrogen powertrains will be used for vehicles, while the remain 200,000 systems will be used for drones, ships, locomotives, forklifts, power generation or other purposes.
Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, stated:
“We will expand our role beyond the automotive transportation sector and play a pivotal role in global society’s transition to clean energy by helping make hydrogen an economically viable energy source. We are confident that hydrogen power will transcend the transportation sector and become a leading global economic success.”
Sales of fuel-cell vehicles have failed to gain traction in recent years despite the availability of several models, including Hyundai’s very own Nexo crossover. Lack of infrastructure — hydrogen stations are a lot more expensive to build compared that EV charging stations — is viewed as one of the largest factors holding back growth of the segment. In the United States, there are only a few places to fill up, and only in a handful of cities in the state of California.
The fact that EVs continue to narrow the gap in terms of recharge time versus hydrogen refueling time also erodes the clear advantage of hydrogen over battery power.
It remains to be seen if FCEVs will be as popular as conventional electric cars, but Hyundai believes it has the capabilities to overcome any challenges and competitive threats. FCEV sales are foretasted to reach two million units annually by 2030.
Lexus Will Electrify All Its Vehicles By 2025
The Japanese premium brand appears to be less skeptical about the electric vehicle segment.
When parent company Toyota announced in 2013 that it was betting on hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles over battery electric vehicles, Lexus naturally followed suit. However, there has been a change of plans.
With Toyota now fully backing battery electric vehicles, Lexus intends for every single one of its vehicles to be a full battery-electric, a plug-in hybrid or a hybrid by 2025, with no plans for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.
Jennifer Barron, the brand’s director in Canada, said as much at the global launch of the Lexus UX, telling journalists:
“Electrification really is for everyone, and when we talk about our hybrids we are talking about electrification. Lexus has committed to producing an electrified version of every Lexus vehicle by 2025. And this will include plug-in and full battery-electric models.”
When the Australian outlet Motoring asked a small panel of Lexus executives about fuel-cell Lexus vehicles, they didn’t have much to say on the subject aside from that they were exploring all possibilities, preferring instead to talk about the potential of hybrid power.
So while still possible, Lexus becoming a standard-bearer for fuel-cell technology within Toyota is unlikely.