Fuel cell cars are nothing new, and their price is certainly nothing to sniff at, which makes some people wonder who will adopt the technology.
Of course, paying around $60,000 for a modestly-equipped midsize sedan, because it runs on a hydrogen fuel cell, would attract a certain number of buyers. That’s why the Tesla Model S is consistently “sold out,” but will have a hard time catching up with the current leader in electric vehicle units, the Nissan Leaf. Tesla Motors could do a lot more “good” if the technology were more affordable, such as the upcoming Tesla Model 3 promises.
Likewise, Toyota Motor Corporation figures that, to do the most “good” on the street, specifically eliminating greenhouse emissions, its fuel cell car will have to drop in price significantly. The Toyota Mirai, the world’s first full-production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, will go on sale in California, sometime this year, starting at $57,500 before incentives. Mass-production economics aside, Toyota Executives are pushing for even lower pricing, to make the Mirai, and others like it, competitive with other green cars.
Currently, most buyers are willing to consider paying a couple thousand dollars’ premium for clean-tech hybrids and diesels, but more than that is pushing it. Even the first hybrids started out much higher than those couple thousand dollars, but hybrid manufacturers have been able to get those prices down into more-attractive ranges. Fuel cell vehicles will be the same, and it might be artificially induced.
Toyota Fuel Cell development manager Katsuhiko Hirose told his superiors that “it could take fifteen years” to reduce fuel cell car prices to clean-diesel or hybrid levels, to which the top brass said “You’ve got seven-and-a-half,” or something to that effect. Considering that it took about fifteen years for Toyota hybrid technology to percolate through the rest of the lineup, mostly, one might expect the same of Toyota fuel cell technology. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how Toyota plans to force down prices on its newest technology.