The 2015 Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Prototype
It is finally time. Satoshi Ogiso, who has been dubbed ‘the grandfather of the Prius,’ said in a recent interview in Tokyo, “Earlier would have been better, but it’s taken a long time to get to this point.” If you haven’t already guessed at the point Ogiso was talking about, he was referring to the arrival of representative prototypes of Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the precursor to the production FCV that Toyota will offer for sale “around 2015,” as it is now being planned (so it’ll be a while before we see a Toyota with a fuel cell on our Buy Here Pay Here lot!).
This is the company that broke open the hybrid vehicle segment, and it is curious that the go-to brand for green car shoppers is often criticized for its push into hydrogen. Toyota stuck with it though, at first losing money with each one until finally, in a great role reversal, it is the Prius. We don’t hear any bullying anymore! What has been ‘driving’ Toyota’s hydrogen push is not an idealistic worldview, however, but a business case.
Toyota is not walking away from hybrids. In fact, it sees them actually playing a role for a long time into the future, but the company believes that unless there’s a quantum leap in battery technology, hydrogen-powered vehicles will be the greater part of a diverse mix of vehicles used for medium and long-range applications. Toyota’s Principle Technical Center Engineer Matt McClory said, “This is always a kind of mythical issue and I really don’t know where it comes from. We could never have started – not only Toyota but all the major automakers – we would not have started doing fuel cells back in the ‘0-s if we thought it would not make sense to come to market as an economical and sustainable solution.” The future of clean driving is likely the fuel cell, and it is exciting to see each and every automaker making great jumps forward in its advancement.