Here on The Green Optimistic, we love practically anything that reduces our footprint in the environment, such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but there is plenty of misinformation out there that make people think they’re a bad deal.
Maybe you heard once that a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, such as the upcoming Toyota FCV, cost more than a million dollars to build. Factor in that this was seven years ago and it was a prototype, and it makes sense that this absolutely used to be true. On the other hand, seeing as Toyota plans on offering the FCV in 2017 at just $69,000, it would be insane from a business standpoint. After all, Toyota Motor Company, just like every other automaker, is in business to make profits, and it doesn’t seem that Toyota is following the same CARB-fodder production model of the Fiat 500e that Fiat CEO Marchionne refers to as fiscal masochism.
Just as the lithium-ion battery pack in battery electric vehicles, such as the Tesla Model S and Fiat 500e, is a large chunk of the vehicle price, the hydrogen fuel cell that replaces the internal combustion engine in the fuel cell hybrid vehicle is also a big chunk of the car. The battery pack in the Tesla Model S 85 kWh costs over $200 kWh and, thanks to Gigafactory production scales, could drop to as little as $140 kWh. On the other hand, The US Department of Energy suggests that hydrogen fuel cell technology will cost as little as $30 kWh by 2017, about the time that the Toyota FCV hits the market.
Keep in mind the fact that the Tesla Model S, with its relatively expensive $200 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, is profitable for the company. There’s really no reason to suspect that fuel cell vehicles, whose hydrogen fuel cell is already at $47 kWh, would not be profitable for the company, nor affordable to the consumer. Granted, at $69,000, the Toyota FCV sedan is firmly in the premium-pricing segment, but that will likely change in the future.
Image © Olathe Toyota Parts Center