Toyota is doubling down on its investment in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. It plans to design lower-cost mass-market passenger cars and SUVs. Later, it desires to push the technology into buses and trucks.
Toyota already has one hydrogen fuel cell passenger car called Mirai. Currently, the manufacturer is working on the improvement of the vehicle. The new generation of it is expected in the early 2020s, and it is hoping it can prove that technology can be profitable and is a better green alternative than battery-powered vehicles.
Toyota plans to reduce the cost of its hydrogen fuel cell significantly by reducing the amount of expensive materials like platinum used in FCV components and shifting from limited production to mass production. Until now, all of Mirai cars were built by 13 technicians by hand at a plant in Toyota City. One fuel stack costs Toyota $11,000 to produce, but they plan to reduce this number to about $8,000 per stack. The car was selling for $60,000 and there aren’t many refueling stations around, thus, only 6,000 have been sold globally.
The carmaker is planning a phased introduction of other FCV models, including a range of SUVs, pick-up trucks, and commercial trucks beginning around 2025. Toyota already has developed FCV prototypes of small delivery vehicles and large transport trucks based on models already on the road. In order to benefit from mass production, the carmaker is going to use as many parts from existing vehicles as possible in future fuel cell trucks.
Additionally, the company is working on the performance of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The range of the next Mirai is expected to increase by 120-150 miles (200-250 km) and to reach the milestone of 620 miles by 2025.
LMC Automotive predicts fuel cell vehicles to make up only 0.2 percent of global passenger car sales in 2027, compared with 11.7 percent for battery EVs. Therefore, most of the manufacturers see EVs as a better zero-emission solution to gasoline engines. Only Honda, Hyundai and Toyota are betting on fuel cells.