Lexus Hybrid becomes Toyota Hydrogen Prototype – available to buy in 2015


As widely reported in the automotive press this week; Toyota have unveiled their latest working prototype hydrogen car to journalists in Japan. Apparently based on the discontinued Lexus HS 250h, the car has received positive feedback on ride and performance, and Toyota say a production version will be available to buy in 2015.

A similar concept vehicle that will give a better clue as to what the production car might look like, is expected to be unveiled at the upcoming Tokyo Motor show (22 Nov – 1 Dec). Toyota don’t say how much it will cost, but the unveiling of this working prototype comes shortly after Toyota announced they would knock $1m USD from the price of their hydrogen vehicles.

Somewhere between £50,000 and $75,000 USD seems to be the ball-park figure, which if true would be a massive step for fuel cell vehicles: it has been estimated that Honda’s FCX-Clarity (the only current series production fuel cell car) costs more than $120,000 per car just to build.

Much of 2013 has been dominated by EV news and launches, and now it seems the headlines are owned by hydrogen vehicles: the major manufacturers are developing power-trains, often in partnership: Toyota are collaborating with BMW, General Motors are working with Honda and separately partnering with the US Army, and Ford have partnered with Germany’s Daimler, Japan’s Nissan and French OEM Renault.

Although the major OEMs are looking at fuel cell vehicle development – not least GM, who have a great deal of history with Hydrogen – the short-term focus for most is still production battery EVs: GM, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, BMW, Ford, VW, Fiat and China’s BYD currently manufacture and market battery EV models and see a future in the market, but Daimler and Toyota in particular are publicly backing Hydrogen over battery/grid EVs: Both now plan to launch production fuel cell vehicles in 2015.

At the same time: both major manufacturers are pushing for hydrogen fuel station infrastructure investment, and lobbying policy makers to invest, with support from oil companies among others.

Both technologies have a role to play in the migration from fossil-fuel powered ICE transport – perhaps battery EVs are a stepping stone to fuels such as Hydrogen or visa-versa, perhaps battery EVs will have a greater role in urban transport, and hydrogen for longer journeys, freight and off-grid applications.

Backing one technology ahead of another, and in Toyota’s case: effectively dismissing Battery EVs as niche (see: Toyota Chairman Uchiyamada Backs Hybrids And Fuel Cells Over EVs), is a gamble, and a bigger gamble than the Prius ever was.

News coverage of the Toyota FCV-R demo…

Toyota Shows Hydrogen Prototype in Race Toward Fuel Cells
Bloomberg

Will this Toyota do for hydrogen what the Prius did for hybrids?
Digital Trends

2015 Toyota hydrogen vehicle to have 136 HP
WorldOfCarFans

Toyota Prototype Of Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Car Shown To Journalists
Green Car Reports

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