This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has been the host to some pretty impressive technological displays, not the least of which is the United States debut of the Toyota FCV, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been touted as the cleanest thing since battery electric vehicles, but the size and expense of the technology has kept it from being considered as a viable replacement. True, it’s been in development for some time for use in automotive applications but, as Hyundai fuel cell vehicle developers put it, “It’s no longer a science project.” The Honda FCX Clarity and the upcoming Tucson FCV aren’t the only hydrogen fuel cell concepts on the floor, however.
According to Toyota senior vice-president Bob Carter, the Toyota FVC is “really going to change our world, sooner rather than later.” A crowd of onlookers at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show saw what promises to be a stunning production vehicle, something like a smoothed-out Corolla with a huge grille. The hydrogen fuel cell powertrain promises up to 310 miles of range, and refueling takes just minutes, like a conventional vehicle, but without the associated emissions.
Perhaps the only thing missing from the picture is the price of the Toyota FCV, which will be renamed for production. Current production estimates range from $50,000 to $100,000 for, what most would consider, a compact sedan. Toyota is tight-lipped about pricing but, if the estimates are any indication, very few people will be able to afford it. Addressing this concern, Carter went on to say, “We estimate a 95% cost reduction for the powertrain and fuel tanks of the vehicle we will launch in 2015…”
Of course, if the Toyota FCV is going to gain the widespread adoption that Toyota is after, it’ll have to get that price down. By 2020, if mass-production pans out, Toyota estimates the vehicle might be as low as $30,000, putting clean hydrogen fuel cell transportation within the range of millions of buyers.