Toyota is expected to bring production of its hydrogen fuel-cell sedan forward to the end of this year, after repeatedly saying that the car wouldn’t be available until later in 2015.
The prototype FCV sedan was previewed at last year’s Tokyo motor show (above). Toyota hasn’t confirmed the change in launch date but the Japan Times newspaper is quoting sources as saying it will begin building the car in December.
The report says Toyota is looking at production of “dozens of vehicles a month”, each one at a likely price of around $US78,000, or $NZ93,000, and aimed mostly at the US market.
But analysts say the car might even be cheaper now that Toyota has confirmed it will steer away from battery-electric vehicles towards those powered by fuel cells.
Toyota last year said it was aiming at a price of between $US50,000 and $US100,000 for its hydrogen car. The Japan Times said that by 2020, when Toyota is expected to ramp up production, the car could start in price at around $US40,000 ($NZ48,000).
A fuel-cell vehicle gets its power from electricity generated through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. Toyota says hydrogen fuel cells are cheaper on a cost-per-vehicle basis and are more efficient on a well-to-wheel basis.
The US state of California set out a few years ago on a plan to build a ‘hydrogen highway’ of charging stations, but development has been slow. Now Toyota has stepped in to help speed up the project and build a network of refueling stations in California by late next year that it expects will grow to 50 by the end of 2016 and 70 by 2018.
Toyota has calculated that it will take 68 refueling stations to meet the needs of 10,000 California fuel-cell customers to not worry about being stranded. Most of the hydrogen fuel will initially have to be trucked in before self-generating hydrogen stations can become affordable.