Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Cars To Become Reality In 2015
November 21, 2013

Toyota Introduces 2015 Hydrogen Fuel-Cell FCV-R Concept Sedan

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Toyota is now among the automakers unveiling hydrogen-powered cars that are expected to hit the market around 2015. The company showed its FCV-R concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show this week. Honda and Hyundai are expected to introduce new fuel-cell vehicle models at an upcoming auto show in Los Angeles.

The FCV-R concept sedan was shown in Tokyo in a blue color with an aerodynamic design that takes inspiration from a drop of water that signifies that the only substance that emits from the hydrogen-powered tailpipe is water, the New York Times reports.

The front and back grilles make the shape of a "W" motif, which symbolizes the fuel cell cooling system, explained a statement from Toyota Europe. The fuel cell stack is smaller than in previous FCVs, and is positioned under the seats with twin hydrogen tanks. The car measures 4,745 mm long, 1,510 mm high, and 1,790 mm wide.

The FCV-R will have a driving range of approximately 700 kilometers, or about 435 miles, according to tests posted by Toyota. BBC News reports that the range is closer to 500 kilometers, or 300 miles.

Fuel cell vehicles are an attractive alternative to combustion engine vehicles, as well as other hybrid models. "Fuel cells charge much faster and travel a longer distance after being charged, compared with battery-operated electric cars," the BBC article said.

There are concerns about fuels cells, however. Before fuel cell vehicles can attain wide-scale adoption, an infrastructure must be put in place including hydrogen filling stations. To date there have been a number of fuel cell test vehicles on the road, as well as fleet vehicles where a company can provide filling stations within range, the New York Times article said.

Toyota is not the only auto manufacturer with plans to release a fuel cell model in the next two years. Honda has said it will unveil its new concept version for a vehicle it plans to bring to market in 2015. Hyundai has expressed its intention to release a consumer vehicle that runs on fuel cells before even Toyota and Honda. The Hyundai vehicle will be based on the Tucson sport utility vehicle.

Whether Hyundai beats Toyota to market or not, Toyota's entry will make an impression. The Japanese auto manufacturer has led the hybrid market with its Prius for the past several years.

"Everybody has been putting their toe in the water, but Toyota putting its toe in the water is a bit more significant," The New York Times quoted auto industry analyst from West Bloomfield, Mich, Alan Baum.

Certain states are pressing for advances in hybrid cars, such as fuel cell cars being introduced by Toyota, Honda and Hyundai. These cars are expected to come out in advance of a California initiative.

"California zero emission mandate, which has a target date of 2025. We are seeing a commitment to build up the fuel cell infrastructure," Tom Libby, lead analyst for North America Forecasting at the analyst firm R.L. Polk, told RedOrbit.