The Toyota Mirai is the first fuel-cell hydrogen vehicle to market, but it’s not cheap. To accommodate a wider demographic of car buyers, Toyota is reportedly developing a more affordable version of the innovative car.
According to an Asahi Shimbun report first spotted by Autoblog, the new model will be mass-produced but will only be slightly more affordable than the current Mirai at 5.5-6 million yen (~$50,900-$55,500 USD) versus approximately 6.7 million yen (~$62,000 USD).
Produced at the factory that once made the Lexus LFA supercar, the Mirai requires a significant amount of manual labor, limiting initial output to just three units per day. The cheaper model will be marginally smaller and have revised engineering that enables volume production and lower overall costs, thanks to economies of scale.
The fledgling fuel-cell vehicle segment is struggling to gain traction in an automotive market that has yet to fully embrace hybrids let alone electric cars. With just dozens of refueling stations around the world, there is simply no infrastructure to support such vehicles.
Toyota has set a FCV production target of 30,000 units annually by 2020, coinciding with the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.
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.