The makers of the Prius will plough ahead with a hydrogen-powered electric car.
Toyota will putt 10,000 hydrogen-powered electric cars on the road from next year. After reducing the cost of production by 95 per cent, the Japanese automaker believes it is now in a position to mass-produce 10,000 units, which it expects will retail for between $50,000 (£30,475) and $100,000 (£60,950).
The manufacturer has declared only a couple of months ago that production would begin in 2016. However, with Hyundai and Honda hotly tipped to release their hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) in 2015, it appears there is a race on for first place.
The Toyota FCV promises a range of 300 miles, will do 0-60mph in 10 seconds and, crucially, emit nothing but water.
For evangelists, hydrogen has always been seen as an ideal “clean” fuel for vehicles. Unlike battery electric vehicles, they go further and they refuel more like conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. However, there has always been a chicken-and-egg struggle. What comes first? Putting the costly infrastructure in place? Or getting the cars built for an affordable price? This dilemma has meant neither government nor the industry has been particularly enthusiastic to invest.
Initially Toyota FCV will go on sale in the state of California, where it is confident the infrastructure will be available. Using money raised from taxes levied against polluters, the State of California has pledged a $200m investment to various environmentally-oriented groups. This commitment will see 100 hydrogen refuelling stations available by 2024, with 40 of these stations open by 2016.
Hydrogen-based vehicles are expected to play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. California’s Governor has a Zero Emission Vehicles Action Plan, which hopes to see 1.5m zero emissions vehicles on The Sunshine State’s roads by 2025.
Here in the UK, London Deputy Mayor, Kit Malthouse is heavily involved with the UKH2 Mobility programme. His team are bidding in Europe to secure funding to implement six hydrogen refuelling stations across Britain’s capital, with a view to having 60 available nationally by the end of 2015.