Toyota has exhibited its newest starlet running on hydrogen fuel, the FCHV-adv (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle-advanced) at the RAC Brighton to London Future Car Challenge. This was another chance for Toyota to show just how well its current hybrids can perform in real-world conditions.
The basic idea of fuel cell hybrids is that the hydrogen is stored in pressurized tanks; by combining hydrogen with oxygen, the fuel cell generates electricity, and subsequently powers the engine. The solely by-products resulting from the process are the harmless water and heat. No toxic emissions means a cleaner environment.
As simple as it may sound, engineers still have to face the challenge of reliably and cost-effectively applying the concepts to a traditional vehicle.
Toyota has overcome the technical hurdle of safely embedding a compact on-board storage system and guaranteeing performance that isn’t affected by sub-zero temperatures. Their efforts also focused on decreasing the components’ cost and achieving a viable driving range (more than 500 miles on a full tank).
The FCHV-adv development is based heavily on vital data collected from road testing of the first FCHV launched in 2002. The advanced model is to go on sale from 2015, but for now is “showing off” on the roads of California and New York as part of a demonstrative program.
Toyota’s not just all about technical skills, but rather about laying the foundations for a genuine strategy of success, covering from hydrogen fuel production and delivery, to setting up fueling stations. In Europe that success is just around the corner, as small steps are already being taken through the Clean Energy Partnership’s work. Toyota provided Germany with five FCHV-adv for a government-backed trial in 2011.
Tasked with using the least energy to get from Brighton to London, the Toyota fleet included all three generations of Prius, nine Auris Hybrids, two plug-in Prius PHVs and, of course, the UK debut of Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell concept, the FCHV-adv.