Despite partnering with Tesla to explore the development of battery-powered cars, Toyota has hit back at claims from the firm’s CEO, Elon Musk that fuel cell vehicles, as an alternative to battery electric vehicles are ‘bullsh**’.
Tesla is not alone in its scepticism about fuel cell cars; both Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn and former Volkswagen executive Jonathan Browning have both expressed their doubts about the practicality of the technology.
Bob Carter, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations for Toyota USA told reporters at the Detroit Auto Show this week: "Personally I don't really care what Elon and Carlos and Jonathan have to say about fuel cells. It's very reminiscent of 1998, 1999 when we first introduced the Prius."
Having just hit the six million sales mark for its hybrid models, Toyota has every right to feel bullish. But the trash-talk, like boxers before a big match seems silly when we all know the prove will be in the pudding.
For Toyota, which has its new FCV hydrogen-fuelled model based on the Prius to show-off at the show, the war-of-words is a reiteration of its confidence in the technology as it prepares for a market launch in 2015.
According to news agency, Reuters, Carter said ‘naysayers’ would be proven wrong and he believes this first hydrogen-fuelled model could eventually be as successful as its Prius hybrid.
While Toyota’s next step is to move forward with its fuel cell technology, its three rivals will focus on battery electrification.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, Volkswagen’s Browning, who was then chief of US operations for the firm, said electric cars were more viable because electric sockets are everywhere, while hydrogen fuelling stations are few and far between.
But Toyota’s Carter says this problem of a lack of infrastructure will be addressed in time, helped by private-public partnerships building hydrogen stations. He estimates that by placing refuelling stations in the right locations, if all of California was driving hydrogen cars, the state would need the equivalent of just 15 per cent of the current 10,000 gasoline stations littered across the State.
Still, time will tell who will really win in this war of alternative fuel vehicle tech.
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