If you thought electric cars were definitely the future, then Toyota may be about to change that perception: after it expressed strong support for hydrogen fuel cell technology at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
According to Bob Carter, the senior vice-president for Toyota automotive sales in the USA, "fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected."
During the CES event, Toyota showcased the FCV Concept (pictured): a mid-size saloon car that boasts a driving range of 300miles and can accelerate from 0-60mph in 10 seconds. It produces no emissions other than water vapour and refuelling will take just three-five minutes.
In addition, the vehicle boasts a power output density of 3kW/litre: that's more than twice that of the Toyota FCHV-adv fuel cell stack with an output of 100kW. It comes with Toyota's high efficiency boost converter with an increase in voltage made possible thanks to the reduced size of the motor and a reduction in the number of fuel cells.
Toyota has made a massive investment in fuel cell research and development over the last 20 years and has been testing and developing a host of prototypes. It has accumulated more than one million miles and has subsequently achieved a massive reduction in the cost of producing the powertrain and fuel tanks: in the region of 95 per cent.
Overall, Bob Carter is keen to emphasise that the company remains committed to electric cars: but that the cost reduction that has already been achieved with hydrogen fuel cell cars may make them a viable alternative.
"Toyota has been in the automotive drive-battery business for a long time. We love batteries," he said. "We are the world leader in hybrid electrics. That dedication to battery technology will continue.
"But compared to battery-electrics, the rate of cost reduction we have seen in fuel cell-electric technology has been staggering. That's why hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe and in much greater numbers than anyone expected."
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