Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car – Just a “Better Battery”, Says Exec

Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell car, Ready to Change the WorldPersonally, I think both battery electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars, such as the Toyota Mirai, have a place in the future of transportation, but maybe the solution isn’t that clearly cut.

Ahh, the age-old debate between battery electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars… Actually, can we call it an “age-old debate” if it’s only been going on for a few years? One would have to say that it’s been going on for at least a decade, even though the technologies behind modern battery electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell cars go back decades. The first battery electric cars go back as far as 100 years!

Of course, now that battery electric cars have hit their stride, Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf spring to mind first, one has to wonder if latecomer-to-green-transportation hydrogen fuel cell cars, such as the Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai, are “too late” to make a first impression or right on time. Like hybrid electric cars, the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car has a backup battery, but uses the fuel cell to generate electricity on-demand. Like battery electric cars, the Toyota Mirai generates no emissions, but requires just minutes to refuel.

Technology aside, there have been some “shots fired over the bow,” so to speak, most notably by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, who said “you know what” and says they should be called “fool-cell” cars. Even Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn expressed concern over the glaring lack of hydrogen fuel cell supporting infrastructure. Still, there are at least a couple automakers pushing forward with mass-market hydrogen fuel cell cars, the results of which are quite encouraging. In Japan, Toyota has already confirmed over 1,600 orders for the Toyota Mirai and, in the United States, some 16,000 “want to know more” about its development and release.

Time to fire a shot across Tesla Motors’ bow, then, as Toyota Senior Vice President of US Operations Bob Carter has done, at least off-record. The official press release contains none of it, but the speech in person was quite astounding. Covering a variety of topics, not the least of which was the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car, Carter expressed his “disappointment” in Musk’s earlier statements, which I would suppose means that he thinks Musk probably shouldn’t focus too much on battery electric cars as the only solution, saying “If I had all my eggs in one basket, I might be making the same comments.” Funny, people said the same thing about conventional cars in their infancy, as well as electric cars in their infancy.

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Comments

  • QKodiak

    I do not consider HFCVs to be EVs anymore than I would consider a series hybrid to be electric. For one, you can’t plug it in. For two, you can’t run it on just electricity. For three, it “burns” hydrogen fuel just like a hybrid burns gas or diesel.
    It’s not an electric car anymore than a VW Bug that can motor itself down the road with the starter and 12V battery is.
    Calling a HFCV’s hydrogen tank a better battery is like calling a Chevy Volt’s gas tank a better battery. It’s stupid. One is powered by H2 and the other by gas. Both are fuels used to produce electricity to power electric motors to drive the wheels, both are quite inefficient, and both are very carbon intensive with 96% of H2 being fossil fuel derived.

  • Bill Bennett

    Elon said it best…hydrogen fuel cells are such BS…and then goes on to explain why. He went with batteries because it is the best solution and is doing everything he can to help everyone move in that direction. The electric infrastructure is already in virtually every building in the world. Just have to add a charge point and instant refueling station. Throw up a few solar panels and you’re making you’re own fuel.
    The only advantage that hydrogen may have now is speed of refueling but when new battery tech comes down the pipe in the next few years all that will evaporate.

  • apostasyusa

    Fuel cells are not an efficient method for producing automotive power. Most of the energy gets wasted in the form of heat with a fuel cell. There are also inefficiencies in creating and storing hydrogen.

    Electric cars that use batteries are vastly more efficient. The market for electric cars is taking off, while the fuel cells systems are barely in the development stage. The only real reason I can see the anyone is promoting fuel-cell cars is that they are desperate to stop the democratization of energy. When one can charge their own car with the solar panels on their house, the fuel industries no longer have a fuel to sell you.

    It think PEM’s are great, if one is powering and heating their home with them, but in a car……not so great.

    If anyone wants an Fuel-cell car they are going to have to fork out $50k minimum. I can buy a 150 mile range electric for $15K right now!

    Who knows what Toyota is thinking.

  • protn7

    whatever became of the nickel metal hydride fuel cell ovaskinsky invented? it was sort of hybrid animal, half fuel cell and half battery?

  • Erocker

    A lithium battery returns about 85% of the energy stored in it. A hydrogen fuel cell battery (AS IT IS CALLED HERE) returns about 30% of the electric used to make the hydrogen. How is that a better battery?

  • Marleychil

    The EV evolution support BEV and battery manufacturers commitment to responsibly recycle or repurpose end of life Batteries.– Best choice

    Above is the Revolution-Below is the Evolution-“The Revolution will not be Televised”

    The EV Revolution supports Hydrogen Technology – However (FCEV) has costly infrastructure, higher cost to maintain, higher manufacturing cost, inefficiency in fuel production and delivery, owner remains tied to higher fuel cost. Only good point fuel when burnt produces zero emission

    The EV Revolution recognizes Hybrid plug-in – as a Evolution to take advantage of existing infrastructure or more efficient or cleaner forms of fuel. Higher cost to maintain ,higher manufacturing cost, owner remain tied to higher fuel cost, only temporary solution – Uses electricity for short commutes. – Not Revolutionary.

    The EV Revolution sees Hybrid – as a step in Evolution that take advantage of existing infrastructure or more efficient or cleaner forms of fuel. Higher manufacturing cost higher cost to maintain, owner remain tied to higher fuel cost, only temporary – Not Revolutionary.

    BEV for the EV Revolution. Pay for the Evolution
    or Jump to the Revolution.

  • Marleychil

    The EV Revolution has begun.”The Revolution will not be televised” But will be Electrified

    EV (Electric Vehicle) BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) (FCV) (Fuel Cell Vehicle)

    EV RULES for the EV Revolution- EV or BEV is a pure ELECTRIC charged vehicle.

    EV RULES for the EV Revolution- (FCV) Fuel Cell is a Hydrogen fueled Electric vehicle or Hybrid EV.

    EV RULES for the EV Revolution- Plug-in Hybrid is Gasoline, Diesel, Bio fuel, or Natural Gas fueled vehicle- Plug-in hybrid has direct electric plug charging capabilities, uses fuel for charging or as a range.

    EV RULES for the EV Revolution- Hybrid is Gasoline, Diesel, Bio fuel, or Natural Gas fueled vehicles -Hybrid has no direct electric plug charging capability, uses fuel for charging or as a range extender.

    Hybrids lose because EVs Rule. Create the Spin, but they still won’t Win.

    You can pay for the Evolution or Jump to the Revolution.

  • lad76

    hydrogen is created by reforming Natural gas and compressing it to 10,000psi. It s not a battery, its hydrocarbon fuel just like gasoline or diesel and it pollutes the World like crazy just as any refinery process does.