Though everyone thought we were decades away from this, Japanese automaker Toyota plans to unveil its first-ever commercially produced hydrogen fuel cell car in January in Las Vegas, and it will hit the market some time in 2015.
Toyota holds 70% of the market for non-plug-in hybrids, and has led the way in researching hydrogen fuel cells, which convert hydrogen to water.
Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell car is expected to hit the market sometime in 2015 and will add to its lineup of 12 hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicles for sale in the United States.
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The vehicle is another model of its Prius liftback, which will have a more efficient and lighter-weight battery pack, a lower center of gravity, better aerodynamics and a roomier interior. It’s also looking for 10% better fuel economy and easier re-charging.
On the recharging front, what we could see is a new car that doesn’t need a power cord to recharge, but would charge over top of a coil embedded in the garage floor.
“The next-generation Prius will combine our advanced battery technologies with new electric motors that are smaller in size and feature improved power density,” Toyota Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso told the Detroit Free Press. “The current Prius motor provides four times the power density of the first. The next Prius power density will be even higher.”
So what does the market look like? It’s divided up between the kings of the electric vehicle and non-plug-in hybrids. While Toyota has about 70% of the non-plug-in hybrid car market, in the realm of electric vehicles, the top players—in terms of sales—are Chevrolet, Nissan and Tesla.
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But what Toyota has is range: It doesn’t compete in terms of fully electric vehicles (EVs), but it leads in terms of hydrogen cells and gas-electric hybrids. It makes the RAV4 that runs only on batteries. It’s only sold 517 this year, though.
For its plug-in Prius, sales this year are at 5,031—far behind the electric vehicles of Chevrolet, Nissan and Tesla this year. Chevrolet has sold 11,643 Volts this year, while the Nissan Leaf is in second place with 11,703 sales, followed by Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S, with 10,401 sales.
While it’s making gains with the hydrogen cell, it hasn’t been smoothing running for Toyota’s hybrids. The carmaker is recalling some 780,000 vehicles for a second time over a handling problem. The recall covers about 18,000 2010 Lexus HS 250h models, and all its RAV4 SUVs made from 2006 through 2011 because of fears that a failure of the rear tie rod on the suspension could “cause a loss of vehicle control.”
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com