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Published on June 26th, 2014 | by Jo Borrás

2015 Toyota FCV Hydrogen Production Version Revealed

June 26th, 2014 by  

Editor’s Note: Fuel cell vehicles have very slickly been added to the realm of “clean” tech. If you haven’t checked out Julian Cox’s articles demonstrating how dirty fuel cell vehicles actually are, I highly recommend them: Time To Come Clean About Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles and Severe Issues with Fuel Cell Vehicle GHG Emissions Claims and Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure Grants. It’s also important to note that these vehicles are bloody expensive and don’t even offer the huge fuel savings that battery-electric vehicles offer. The head of Barcelona’s transit agency, which has been key in hydrogen fuel cell testing and a European hydrogen fuel cell consortium, told me that hydrogen fuel cell buses cost about 12x more than conventional buses, while the battery-electric BYD bus they were testing seemed to cost about the same as conventional buses on a lifetime cost basis. The same trend is seen in passenger cars except that the low-production-volume cars being put out by Honda and Toyota have their selling prices heavily subsidized by the misguided compliance-car automakers. With that background in mind, here’s news about Toyota’s coming fuel cell car:

The car you see here is, in fact, the new for 2015 Toyota FCV hydrogen fuel cell car. It’s Toyota’s answer to Honda’s FCX Clarity/FCEV and Hyundai’s fuel-cell Tucson, and it looks so much like the FCV concept car from the last Tokyo Auto Show that you’d be forgiven if, like me, you initially thought that’s what you were looking at!

Though interior photos of the 2015 Toyota FCV haven’t yet been shown, the car is expected to maintain the same 4-seat layout as the concept version. That would mean the FCV would join the current Chevy Volt in making a terrible mistake the 4-passenger club. In addition to playing the interior close to its chest, Toyota hasn’t divulged many technical specs for the FCV, but did state an operating range of around 700 km (about 435 miles on the Japanese/JC08 cycle), which seems pretty solid to me — especially with a refueling time that’s claimed to be in the three minute range.

So, while details remain pretty sparse, one thing we can share with you is the new Toyota FCV’s price tag: just under 7 million yen, or about $69,000 once the car hits US shores in late 2015 (possibly as a 2016 model, just in time to do battle with GM’s next-gen 2016 Chevy Volt).


Source | Images: Toyota, via Paul Tan.

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About the Author

I’ve been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

  • dogdays1

    Its obvious that this technology is still in its costly infancy. Thus said, when mass production comes to its aid to reduce the price and electrically produced Hydrogen is available at all filling stations it will be the way most vehicles are propelled. Being retired I hope I live long enough to own one.

    • Bob_Wallace


      But if buyers visit their Honda dealer and find fuel cell Civic and an 200 mile range electric Civic selling for the same amount but the fuel cell Civic costs more than twice as much per mile to drive which do you think they’ll buy?

      • dogdays1

        Surely the fuel cell cars will get cheaper as will the Hydrogen. I am speaking of 15 years hence not today.

        • Bob_Wallace

          It makes no (climatic) sense to power FCEVs from reformulated methane. We would need to make the H2 in a non-carbon releasing fashion.

          Right now that means using electricity to crack water into H2 and O. It takes a lot of energy to do that, we end up using twice as much electricity than is required to move an EV down the road for the same distance.

          We might invent a lot of stuff in the future. Problem is, we don’t know what that might be.

          • dogdays1

            I had a tour of the Culham JET project and the guys were openly very confident that fusion reactors were going to happen. I understand that a pilot plant is being constructed in France.

          • dogdays1

            This is the project http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITER I take your point though about the time scale.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Your link leads to a page that doesn’t exist.

            If fusion reactors can be made to work (I’d give a higher than 50% chance) then we’d likely switch to them. That’s assuming they work reliably and are cheaper than other options.

            But it’s going to take time to build one that works (1 year?, 10 years? more?) and then maybe a decade to make sure that it works well enough for deployment.

            We really can’t afford to wait to see “if”. We can, however, go with what works now (and would give us cheaper electricity than we now have). Then 10, 20 , however many years down the road we can switch.

      • alleyoop120

        No matter how cheaply electricity can be produced, it still will take twice the energy to produce H2 and propel a FCV a given distance than directly charging a battery. Maybe some wonderful electrolysis breakthrough will occur, but battery technology will certainly also improve. My understanding is that part of the gigafactory will be used for R&D.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Ben, here’s something that just appeared on my screen…

    “Three and a half years after the first Nissan Leaf went on sale, Nissan has announced the cost of a replacement lithium-ion battery pack for its electric car.

    It’s a surprisingly low $5,499 (after a $1,000 credit for turning in the old pack, which is required), plus installation fees and tax. The installation is estimated at roughly 3 hours of labor.”


    $5,499 + 1,000 = 6,499 for a 24 kWh pack. Assembled. Retail.

    That’s $270/kWh. Assembled. Retail.

    It probably means a battery price below $200/kWh. Nissan is probably making some profit as is the Nissan dealer. There are assembly costs (parts and labor) for putting the individual cells into the pack. And shipping costs.

    I think we can safely leave the $500/kWh number behind.

    • Benjamin Nead

      And this is big news, Bob. Here’s hoping Clean Technica will devote an article to it and not just link to it in an EV news roundup report.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Let me play with the numbers a bit more…

        Assume the cells are costing Nissan $200/kWh. And that Nissan and the dealer each make a 10% profit. That brings the price to $242/kWh. Leaving only $28 for pack hardware, assembly labor, and shipping. I would imagine those things would cost more than $28.

        My guess at this point is that EV batteries have dropped below $200/kWh or Nissan is taking a loss. And I see no need for them to lose money on replacement batteries. Just getting the price down below $6k should be enough to get people past the “What if I have to replace the battery?” hurdle.

  • Ben Helton

    In Fiscal year 2013, there were more than 65 million vehicles produced in the world. Over 10 million of these were produced by Toyota (making it the largest manufacturer of vehicles in the world). Based on this fact, They are arguably one of the most important companies in the world. I trust their decision making 100 times more than somebody who has ambitions to retire on Mars.

    For all those who have skepticism about hydrogen; let’s get some basic things clear.

    YES, about half of the industrial used hydrogen is created using SMR right now. Why? Because most of the demand for hydrogen is right next to petroleum refineries, and for the oil industry (which require it to create gas), this is a very cheap and abundant way to keep the price of gasoline down for the average driver. It is by no means 98% though. That would mean coal, electrolysis, and oil derived hydrogen only makes up 2% combined!? More Muskaganda I’m sure. Closer to 48% is the real world number, although that could be argued depending on the source. Coal makes up around 18% alone, so we’re certainly not anywhere close to what the BEV fundamentalists like to reference. These numbers are all about to change though, and I’ll explain why;

    As far as filling stations for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the best scenario is NOT to truck in hydrogen and fill containers on site. This has a lot more liability and risk involved, a lot more energy is spent in keeping the trucks running, paying drivers, insurance, etc. Not to mention, the stations would have to have huge containment abilities so as not to require shipments on a daily basis.

    Instead, What is currently being adopted as the basic economic standard is installing electrolyzer systems on site equipped with compressors. These will continuously keep stocking a rather small (in the world of fuel storage) tank that will be able to provide rapid transfer to vehicles. The two basic requirements for these systems once built are water and electricity. Seeing as all filling stations currently have abundant access to both, this wild idea that a hydrogen infrastructure is trillions of dollars worth of pipeline and all sorts of new transport equipment is crazy. In fact, it should be quite the opposite. This is where capitalism works well. If the market suddenly shifts towards pumping stations needing $1,000,000+ upgrades to be able to accommodate the newer vehicles coming out, companies, investors, and innovators jump in and drive the price down just from competition of wanting to get in on the action. Now that safety codes have been established, pump standards, and the general confidence that this is where the market is headed, there is no doubt that more and more people will be jumping in to try and get a piece of the pie. This is the Invisible hand at its best.

    Now, this is where the argument for CO2 truly starts. What is the source of your energy input for these ‘electric vehicles’?

    Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Hydro-Electric, Solar, Geo Thermal, Wind?
    In capitalism, we kind get bitch slapped around by an invisible hand, so the big investment dollars that make the decisions essentially like taking the path of least resistance. Thanks to fracking (which I don’t support), natural gas has made its way up the totem pole for the time being. Whether from supply, or environmental back fire, this eventually won’t last. That’s why CNG vehicles are only barely being tried, and is rarely thought of as a long term direction to move into.
    Seeing as we can essentially synthesis water into fuel with any source of energy we want, there’s not long term risk of fuel cell vehicles becoming obsolete. This is why not only Toyota, but Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes, Ford, GM, BMW, (and even Nissan and Volkswagen!) have all decided to invest heavily in the research and development of fuel cells and their application to a vehicle.

    And please, don’t start spinning your Alex Jones grade information about the platinum required for these things to work. The fuel cell requirements for rare earth metals (in vehicle applications) have been reduced to the same levels required in today’s catalytic converters for an ICE. Yes, they are not cheap, but when a catalytic converter goes out in your vehicle, they certainly do not cost $20,000 or $30,000+ and potentially total the vehicle out.

    When society steers from fossil fuels; where will the money go? With BEVs being a mainstream norm, all of the savings will be to make up for the cost of the batteries. We’ll go from drilling to mining.

    With fuel cell vehicles being the norm, the money being spent on the fuel can go towards electricity that we can mandate as a society become all renewable. (In other words – as the demand from the fueling stations goes up, bring only renewables online)

    The amount of money the US loses to buying over-seas oil is astronomical. If that money could suddenly become in domestic circulation, for the name of electricity, there is no doubt we will be able to afford mandates requiring only renewable sources going online. Think about it….

    • Bob_Wallace

      You’re working really hard to make a case for H2 FCEVs but you haven’t come up with the real solution for how FCEVs push EVs aside.

      How do you sell customers on paying over twice as much per mile to drive?

      It takes 2x as much electricity per mile to drive a FCEV than to drive an EV.

      There are infrastructure costs that must be covered. Even if you process water at local filling stations or personal garages it still means that equipment to crack the water has to be installed and maintained.

      The only way I can see for FCEVs to push EV aside is to become much cheaper to purchase. Low enough to offset the higher operating costs.

      Given that most people in the EV business expect EVs to settle in around the same price or a bit lower than same-model ICEVs that’s going to be a tough job. It won’t be enough for FCEVs to get “as cheap” or “just a little cheaper”, they will have to become significantly cheaper. Thousands cheaper.

      • Ben Helton

        Explain to me how a BEV (with comparable range) is going to be able to come in ‘a bit lower’ to its ICE equivalent. Do you realize many of today’s vehicles can be thrown together for under $10,000, excluding R&D. How is this possible for a BEV when the battery price alone will exceed that?

        Do you expect that surging battery demand will reduce the cost of batteries? How are we going to continually power the increasing need of mining trucks and equipment? More (enormously larger) batteries? This will just continue the need for even more mining trucks, which will then need even more batteries. It starts sounding like the story of ethanol!

        Yet… we manage to produce enough catalytic converters for all of our vehicles these days, so the conversion for those resources to be used in fuel cells seems rather easily tolerable without extreme demand fluctuations that haven’t already been endured.

        None the less, we can argue basic market predictions all we want, but the truth of it is, Toyota knows and understands the economics of all of this better than any of us.

        • DaveG

          One way Elon is going to bring battery prices down is by leveraging the extraordinarily depressed mining sector. Take Cobalt for example, The mine in Idaho Elon is going to use (Formation Metals) is trading at 20 cents now, but was at $6.00 before the Great Recession. Elon will fund FCO (and they have already agreed) for an off-take agreement, guaranteeing cobalt at today’s extraordinarily low prices. Same thing with the other elements like Lithium.

        • Bob_Wallace

          An ICE along with its fuel, cooling and exhaust systems is not cheap. Battery prices are expected to fall.

          Musk has stated that over time battery prices should fall to ~$100/kWh. Sub-$10k EVs may need to be range limited, but people who purchase the cheapest ICEVs aren’t likely doing a lot of long distance traveling. The Leaf has a 24 kWh pack, at $100 per that’s $2,400, less than the cost of a new ICE.

          “Do you expect that surging battery demand will reduce the cost of batteries?”

          Absolutely. Material costs for lithium-ion batteries are under $100/kWh. Large scale manufacturing creates efficiencies which will pull prices toward materials costs.

          We’re about to see a significant drop in battery prices when Tesla brings its new factory on line. Economy of scale.

          How will we power mining trucks? We might decide that the relatively small amount of petroleum used in mining would create an acceptable amount of CO2. Or we might electrify surface mining as we have done with underground mining. Mining vehicles have very short ranges which makes them ideal candidates for battery swapping.

          Toyota knows best? That’s one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read.

          Toyota makes a good product (I’ve owned a few). But they can’t know that battery prices won’t drop in price to the point at which the money they have invested in FCEVs will have been wasted. They made a long term bet a long time back when batteries were much more expensive and not that much battery research was occurring. Looks to me as if they made a bad bet.

          Time will tell.

    • Benjamin Nead

      With the exception of a few snarky Elon Musk jabs and Alex Jones comparisons aside, I’d like to thank you for making a clear and detailed case for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. I may not share all your rosy optimism on how you see FCVs rolling out in the next few years, but this is generally how we should be talking about this issue here.

      Note that all the OEMs you mention with FCV programs also have rather ambitious battery R&D projects underway. Toyota, in particular, recently announced advancements in the solid electrolyte cells (very exciting technology that addresses many limitations of the best commercially available lithium ion cells of today) and I wouldn’t be surprised if they finally do build a commercially available pure EV around batteries such as this. I just hope (sue me) it doesn’t have the “Studebaker Lark on peyote” looks of their new FCV pictured at the top of this article. 🙂

      Unlike a relatively small battery-only vehicle manufacturer like Tesla, the larger established OEMs all have fairly diverse portfolios and will continue to produce (or, at the very least, experiment with) vehicles of every conceivable power source until the time – and, often, beyond the time – that the market no longer supports them. No surprise, also, that larger businesses move more slowly into newer technologies than smaller companies. Toyota still makes oodles of money sell legacy (non-plug-in) hybrids and nobody expects them to instantly stop. The trick will be how quickly they will be able to phase them out of production when newer technologies – either ones developed within or elsewhere – make them look anachronistic.

      As I mentioned before, any practical fuel cell vehicle is basically going to be a hybrid, as batteries are going to be needed for vehicle startup, instant throttle response and storage of energy produced by the electric motor(s) via regenerative braking (very even keeled article on that subject,
      below) . . .


      In much the same way that I don’t “hate” fuel cells out of hand (yet still question how we’re going to get that desirable clean hydrogen at a reasonable price and how the whole hydrogen economy will scale up as smoothly as you envision,) I would hope that thinking people who support this technology with great vigor will also want to see even better batteries than we have today. It not only feeds into lighter and more efficient BEVs, it will make for better FCVs down the road as well.

      • Ben Helton

        Bob_Wallace Benjamin Nead

        I don’t fully share your optimism for batteries; so please, let me explain.

        yes, an FCEV requires one for a buffer (about 4KWh), but it’s in the cards for that battery size need to actually go down.

        There is no real starting of the engine required here. In essence, once the fuel cell starts running, it has its own power source. There’s no 1.4kw electric motor having to draw 120amps to start a motor. The need for an on board power source is limited to unlocking the doors, powering a security system, and running a few lights. The stack can begin pumping output in seconds, with minimal energy required to boot.

        Right now the batteries are supplementing the fact that we are trying to balance optimal power usage of the gas through the cells, and it gives the cell the ability to always operate at peak point.

        I believe we will see an integration of a 3 size stack setup (small, med, large) that gives the vehicle a better ability to throttle up and down power demand to do away with the need of a wide range of stress capabilities on just one fuel cell.

        One of the easiest ways they can bring down the price of these vehicles is reducing battery sizes (hence Toyota working very hard on battery technology) I don’t know if you remember, but a few years ago, Toyota suffered and had to hold back sales of the popular Prius due to battery supply constraints. With this issue already being troubled at the board of directors level, why would such a large enterprise move towards expanding their battery needs to levels >1000% of current demand by introducing large BEV fleets?

        If you claim my ideology for hydrogen is rosy, clear this rosy picture up for me.

        in 2008, the world used 143,851,000,000,000 KWh’s of energy. (143,851 terrawatt hours)

        In a ‘battery economy’ with 200+ ‘gigafactories’ – how much battery storage would we need to handle an average day, assuming we’ve kicked our carbon habit? (We must be prepared for renewable blackouts and have enough energy storage for at least a 24 hour period, right?)

        That’s 934,112,328,767 kwh’s / day.

        Ahem… how much is the going rate for large scale battery storage these days?….

        Let’s be generous and assume Elon comes through with the near impossible; we get the battery down to $100 / kwh. Okay great… now, what’s the life span on our $93 trillion dollar investment?

        I think we’re gonna need some ‘tera-factories’ for this kind of output 😉

        What I don’t get is how, of all places, Silicon Valley is not pushing hydrogen technology further than Japan or Germany. It’s in essence, a nano-technology, and shares a lot of similarities with semi-conductors, needed materials, scientists, etc…

        Hydrogen fuel cells are still in their infancy the same way personal computers were in the 70s. They are just learning to walk, and here, we have a bunch of want-to-be Martians trying to put it in everybody’s head that the kid has autism, or is somehow retarded and inferior.

        You don’t see any hydrogen vehicles come up in stories like the Electrovette, or the EV1, so please, have some respect that this isn’t a continually failed effort. The need for batteries in the end is more damning than our current need for oil, and if you fail to see that, you have some meditating to do on the subject.

        Elon Musk is a rich boy who lives on $300,000 / month. This is not a characteristic of somebody that truly cares about their carbon footprint. He see’s a goldmine in a battery age that would make the fossil fuel industry drool, and he doesn’t care if we trash this planet because he has his eyes set on another.

        • DaveG

          I really enjoyed your comments until the last paragraph. Elon maybe wrong, but there is no evidence to suggest he is apathetic towards the carbon footprint. He is just trying to get people to act, finally. It is truly more difficult than an act of congress to make anything happen. It suggested to me that you might be ideological in favor of FCVs.

          • Ben Helton

            riddle me this;

            when was Elon known publicly for saying the words; “Watch this”

          • DaveG

            You mean when he crashed the Maclaren? Great story, huh! He said “Watch this” right before he crashed (after his paypal buddy asked “what can this do?”). There were reports that he laughed about it, but that was not true. During the interview he joked about SpaceX saying he should say “Watch this” right before a launch. Too funny!

            Ben, you have great points. You and I should be able to agree though that FCV’s are a ways off due to the daunting infrastructure change. My bet is that FCV’s won’t take off until Government gets seriously involved, and government of course is bad, right? So that won’t happen soon. So I am not too optimistic. As for as the economics of FCV, you raised some interesting points. Another thing you might consider too is that if we went all electric, we wouldn’t need 121,000 fueling stations, but probably an order of magnitude fewer. Lets say we eliminate 100,000 gas stations. That is a million people doing something else, a million less cross country trips delivering fuel per year, etc. etc.

            Batteries will take off IMO. If the supply problems can’t be solved, then maybe that will force the FCV option, but in the short term they will do very well. I myself am really looking forward to powering my next vehicle with my 28 solar panels, going zero to 60 faster than my 426 hp Camaro SS, and never visiting a gas station again!

        • Bob_Wallace

          Chew on this.

          If we drive EVs then we have to install wind, solar and other renewables to power them.

          If we drive FCEVs then we have to install more than twice as much new capacity.

          It’s about cost per mile.

          • Ben Helton

            You really fail to calculate the cost and implications of making batteries for all these vehicles.

            Let’s do some basic math at today’s numbers. (ignoring supply and demand basics that will drive raw material price up)

            Current price / kwh for lithium ion batteries is around $500.

            The average range for today’s vehicles is 300+ miles. (so let’s not try to compromise here)

            So, we’ll be generous and say the 85kwh battery actually can deliver 300 miles consistently.

            The US sold / created about 15 million new vehicles in 2013.
            If we packed each vehicle with 85kwh batteries, we need about 1.275 billion kwh worth of battery storage for just one years worth of demand for new vehicles. Assuming we can lock in today’s price (on a finite resource), we’ll have a staggering $637 billion invested in just batteries for these new vehicles.

            So…. you want to have a conversation about cost? How much chewing you think it will take to swallow that one?

          • Bob_Wallace

            How about we try a reasonable discussion and not put both thumbs and a foot on the scale?

            Most people will not need an 85 kWh battery pack. A 200 mile range is very usable for almost everyone. So something more around 60 kWh is where we will likely settle. A 200 mile range with rapid 90% recharging gets you to the end of a 500 mile driving day almost as fast as driving a 300 mile range fuel car.

            And battery costs will drop considerable under $500/kWh. Musk suggests they will drop to around $100.

            That brings the cost of a battery pack into the $6k to $7k range. Close to, certainly not much more than an ICE and support systems.

            Could the cost of a fuel cell and batteries drop into the same range? Possibly.

            But even if the cost of a fuel cell and batteries drop a couple thousand below the cost of a battery pack that difference will be wiped out by higher operating costs.

            (You probably don’t want to base your argument on current costs. The Toyota FCEV will sell for $70k? That’s getting pretty close to the cost of one of the most amazing cars produced today, the Tesla S.)

        • Bob_Wallace

          BTW, your last paragraph is a pile of bull.

          And this claim –

          ” The need for batteries in the end is more damning than our current need for oil, and if you fail to see that, you have some meditating to do on the subject” –

          is so over the top that is laughable.

          IMHO you are letting your love of fuel cells override your ability to reason and think.

          • Ben Helton

            Which part? his lavish lifestyle?

            It’s an elitists state of mind; don’t mind your own resource demand and impact; justify your behavior by trying to change the lives of people who are already living on much less, and force them to reduce their impact to help make up for yours.

            A perfect example of his personal lack of worry;

            Some great leadership if you ask me.

            I don’t like hypocrites, and I certainly wouldn’t take their business advice.

            Have you read / heard how poetically he details why fuels cells are inferior to BEVs?

            “And then they’ll say certain technologies like fuel cell … oh god … fuel cell is so bullshit. Except in a rocket,” said Musk. He went on to say that even the best hydrogen fuel cell technology doesn’t compare to the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, such as that found in Tesla’s Model S. ” In the case of hydrogen fuel cells, take the current state of the art, and compare how much space, weight and cost is associated with the powertrain of a fuel cell, and compare that with the Model S … it loses on every category”

            This doesn’t sound like somebody educated on what a fuel cell is….. I think he has taken an age old fear of hydrogen and just will not listen, or even bother to consider the technology at hand.

            Not to bash on your man crush and all, I just find a lot of disturbance in the false information he sells and convinces others of while he pursues an enterprise in the business of batteries, not cars…

          • Bob_Wallace

            Ben, your posts are becoming ridiculous.

            Musk’s lifestyle has zero to do with EVs and FCEVs.

          • DaveG

            Bob… I concur.

          • Benjamin Nead

            Yes. An intelligent debate on the pros and cons of FCVs and EVs shouldn’t have to include personal snipes at Elon Musk. If something critical is going to be said on HFC product from any of the of the major OEMs, I wouldn’t expect to hear about lifestyle aspects of the CEOs of those companies and how outsized they might appear in comparison to a shop floor worker.

        • A Real Libertarian

          They are just learning to walk, and here, we have a bunch of want-to-be Martians trying to put it in everybody’s head that the kid has autism, or is somehow retarded and inferior.

          It’s more like somebody is pointing out the kid is demanding to be carried everywhere despite having perfectly functional legs and is just lazy, and that the rehabilitation money would be better spent on the kid with no legs who has jury-rigged a pair of fake legs to move and is just being neglected in corner.

    • juxx0r

      Platinum isn’t a rare earth, it’s a PGM

  • sault

    Ultimately, FCVs might progress much like rotary-engine cars like the RX-8: a seemingly unique and fascinating design that ends up being way more complicated / costly / troublesome to operate in the real world than people realized. This in still an incomplete comparison since rotary engines still use the existing petroleum fueling infrastructure used by hundreds of millions of cars worldwide. The difficulty and cost of standing up an entirely new fueling infrastructure for H2 means that FCVs will be held back even more. Maybe, after decades of research, finally bringing FCVs to market is more a matter of pride to these companies or they are struggling to have something to show for all the capital spent on FCV development.
    For Toyota in particular, they have a huge vested interest NOT to cannabilize sales of the Prius by releasing a great plug-in vehicle. The plug-in Prius was really a half-measure, and combined with the FCV, it might be enough to comply with CARB requirements. However, they do not want to slow down the Prius gravy train until they have to. GM and Nissan didn’t have a global winner like the Prius, so they leap-frogged into the plug-in arena with little hesitation. But the way to get Toyota to make their own move would be for Prius sales to start declining as people buy more EVs. (I’m one to talk…I’m planning on buying my 2nd Prius next year! But at least it’ll be a used one!)
    It doesn’t help that governments around the world are so eager to throw millions of dollars / euros / etc. at hydrogen as well. The market is not asking for these cars, but government policy (and free money) can always get a company’s attention.

    • Ben Helton

      If rotary engines effectively reduced emissions to zero, you bet your ass it would be the norm.

      The problem with rotary engines is despite the smaller displacement, they still somehow consume more fuel than if you try to granny drive it. Yes, they provide more power out of a smaller box, but there is a price to pay for that performance in the name of extra maintenance and a PITA to work on.

      And yes, the market is asking for these cars. If your agenda is to just be negative and to try and nay say a new science, start your own opinion blog. Don’t try to speak authoritatively about a company that you fundamentally disagree with, yet you will go buy their vehicles. (Makes no sense, but that’s just me)

  • mds

    1. They are still more expensive to purchase than EVs, PHEVs, or EREVs.
    2. They are more expensive to operate if you run them on H2 from electrolysis using renewable electricity …because that takes three times as much compared to using the same electricity to more directly by storing it in an EV battery.
    3. If you run them on H2 from methane then this may not be more expensive (to begin with), but they will be responsible for putting more CO2 (and methane from leaks) into the air …thus violating one of the major reasons for adopting electric transport to begin with.
    4. There are almost no H2 refueling stations right now. Serious range anxiety for FCEVs.

    So FCEVs are more expensive to buy, more expensive to operate, more polluting, and really inconvenient to refuel. I don’t see how FCEV production and sales are going to succeed. The business plan does not look good to me.

  • Ben Helton

    Wow. How dare somebody publish something on CleanTechnica that isn’t obviously in support of Tesla and against the obviously stupid fool’s cell.

    Thank you editor for making it clear to us that the article is clearly stepping over the lines, and is lacking the overall general slant the site generally likes to publish.

    • Benjamin Nead

      Just several days after the controversial Julian Cox fuel cell article, Ben, one of Clean Technica’s regular contributors, Tina Casey, wrote a very upbeat piece on a newly discovered catalyst material that could possibly replace (far more expensive) platinum . . .


      So, it’s a bit disingenuous to declare this site automatically slanted in an
      anti-FC editorial direction. Yes, the general population of those who post comments following articles here tend to question the validity of FCVs. But one would imagine that the comments would skew in the opposite direction elsewhere. There are, after all, any number of web sites that have a decidedly pro-FC bent and have no problems declaring themselves as such.

      It’s not that so many of us don’t want fuel cells to work. It’s just that they’re still expensive, the most cost effective methods for producing the hydrogen at commercial scale (ie: steam methane reformation) has serious environmental issues and the vehicles are still essentially hybrids (any practical FCV is going to largely dependent on batteries, so I find it particularly odd that many in the pro-FC camp have a vehement anti-battery demeanor .)

      I’d like to see the cost of truly clean hydrogen (ie: PV electrolysis) come down. In much the same way that a Volt effectively bridges the gap between a pure EV and a conventional hybrid today, an ideal long range vehicle of the future might be a mostly battery plug-in vehicle (which can accommodate 90% of most daily driving needs) and a small fuel cell for, perhaps, a once or twice a month long freeway drive. But, yeah, a lot is going to have to happen before that’s a practical and affordable reality.

      What we are seeing on these limited production cars that will be showing up shortly, though, is in many ways a step backward. None of them, as far as I know, allow the batteries to be charged separately and have any driver control as to choosing either the H2 or the batteries to suit the occasion.

      But all of this is academic until the hydrogen is both clean and affordable. Unfortunately, those two mileposts are, well . . . still miles apart.

      • Ben Helton

        Oh yes, I saw the article. I also read how you guys tried to chew into her article with conspiracy theory trash such as;

        “This recent Clean Technica article, authored by Julian Cox, linked here . . .


        . . . only confirms my suspicions that hydrogen is being advanced by the petroleum industry as a diversion to advance further progress in the deployment of battery electric vehicles.”

        Yes…. Julian cox nailed it. Japan makes so much money on exporting fossil fuels, it suddenly makes so much sense why such a technology brilliant country would want to advance hydrogen technology! It must be for their fossil fuel industry that is just thriving!! We must all feel so certain he has no interest in the battery industry to make such a well balanced decision! 😉

        Come on man…. You guys make this website look like InfoWars with all of your conspiracy theories, and Julian Cox has become Alex Jones

        • Benjamin Nead

          Well yes, Ben, the oil industry obviously has a major stake in H2. There’s absolutely nothing conspiratorial about stating what is a matter of public record. it’s also completely in the open that battery vehicles are contrary to their existing business model.

          But you’re completely comfortable with all of this? I’m not. My guess is that you have negligible interest in how methane-generated hydrogen production relates to the environment. Most on a web site with a name like Clean Technica are going to be concerned with such things. We’re not infatuated by geeky gadgets simply because they function in some novel way. They also have to function with a reasonable degree of reliability, do so without costing a fortune (a big one with me and I regularly take authors on this site to task for writing about platinum-plated green stuff) and not pollute.

          The Japanese, obviously, are not powerhouses in petroleum production. Who here ever said they were? But they are a major player in the manufacturing of automobiles. They also make technologically brilliant battery vehicles and I hope they make many more of them. That several of their companies are currently infatuated with fuel cells is completely coincidental.

          Now, getting this back on topic . . . please address the actual issues (mds, below, outlines them very well) instead of declaring most others here as conspiracy theorists and blatantly anti-Japanese.

  • Benjamin Nead

    Regarding the hydrogen: It’s possible today to make it cleanly from solar PV water electrolysis. The problem is that it’s about 3 times more energy intensive to do it this way than if those same PV panels were conventionally grid tied.

    Julian Cox argues that there will be a bait-and-switch, where you see hydrogen producers showing their clean water electrolysis PV setups and then doing the actual production via (dirty) steam methane reformation. Given the cast of characters involved (the oil companies,) I don’t doubt this at all.

    Regarding the Toyota FCV: man, that is one fugly-looking ride! The oversize sabertooth grills are bad enough, but the panel lines from the side views remind me of the worst of the 1950s. EV advocates worried that sales of electric cars would suffer because of goofy styling. If those same fashionistas are now applying their “magic” to FCVs, we can be sure that movement will get off to a rocky start.

  • Samuel Heyes

    Julian Cox’s argument is based on hydrogen from natural gas. He left out hydrogen from renewables completely. Maybe it’s because, as his profile at seeking alpha says, he’s all in for TSLA (he doesn’t say if he owns stock or not). Also, he doesn’t mention his company flightpower.co.uk- which apparently had some customer service issues (which a search will reveal).

    Hydrogen Cars are electric cars, and to bash them goes against Tesla’s mission statement- whether Musk likes “fool cells” or not.

    Musk: “Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.” http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/mission-tesla

    • Matt

      Yes based on current or near term methods for making Hydrogen (almost 100% from NG) they are dirty. Maybe sometime in the future, maybe 20s or 30s (or sooner or later) they will start to have hydrogen from renewable sources.

      • Ben Helton

        No starting about it. You can create hydrogen with any source of electricity you want.

        In fact, if you do some research, Honda has a neat solar powered canopy / mini H2 pump.

        • Bob_Wallace

          It’s the cost, Ben.

          People are going to purchase the least expensive H2 and that comes from natural gas.

          People aren’t going to pay a premium for a FCEV and then pay about as per mile as driving with gasoline.

        • mds

          Really neat Ben. All I have is one of those boring and ubiquitous 120 VAC power plugs, bummer.

      • mds

        …or maybe in the 20s or 30s H2 from electrolysis will still take three times as much energy as using the electricity to charge a battery for running an EV. Who is to say? Technological breakthroughs of that nature are very difficult to predict. We still can’t spin flax into gold …and it’s been centuries. …millennia?

        • sault

          Exactly! Why would people pay 2x more ($69,000 for the FCV vs a $34,000 LEAF – in Japan) for a vehicle that costs 3x as much to run AND which has an extremely limited refueling infrastructure (which will only change if governments pour additional billions into it)?
          If they use natural gas to make hydrogen, how is this superior in any way to just using natural gas directly to power a vehicle? Just like why not use renewable electricity DIRECTLY to power an EV instead of wasting 66% of it to power an extremely expensive hydrogen supply chain and a fuel cell that just turns the energy back into electricity anyway?
          The only advantage hydrogen has is that you can “fill up” faster than charging an electric car. But how is this an advantage when there aren’t any hydrogen stations to fill up at to begin with? And Tesla’s supercharger network is increasingly making this one benefit of H2 vehicles moot with each station that gets installed. (I don’t want to hear any bellyaching from the H2 supporters about how Tesla cars are luxury items with an extremely limited market. When the best an H2 car can manage right now is a price tag of $69,000, any comparisons between the two are extremely apt.)

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, Julian’s point was that since H2 created using renewable electricity is so much more expensive than NG H2 the real CO2 footprint of H2 FCEVs will be carbon intensive.

    • spec9

      Because some 98% of the available hydrogen is made by steam-reforming natural gas. How dare him use facts! And if you are going to use renewables, it is much easier to put that electricity straight into the battery of an EV. This is something that can easily be done at home . . . in fact I do it every day.

    • mds

      ” “…bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible” ”
      FCEVs are farther from mass market than EVs, PHEVs, or EREVs, so no Tesla’s lack of interest in FCEVs does not go “against Tesla’s mission statement”. Actually, you H2 fan boys are over-sensitive and not very analytical. Elon Musk doesn’t waste time bashing H2 vehicles much. He’s made a few curt remarks against them.

    • Julian Cox

      Because renewable hydrogen cannot ever compete with the cost of its own energy inputs due to the laws of nature (it is a lossy process), and the capital cost of creating a direct to hydrogen solution cannot obviously compete with drilling a hole in a pressurised gas pocket and mining a substance with energy content to create hydrogen included:

      The only role of renewable hydrogen is either as a cynical, thoughtless, deliberate or an unwitting promotion of metane based hydrogen and a scam deserving of being exposed.

      Whatever motivates the selfishness or idiocy of promoting hydrogen, please be advised the public must be warned repeatedly that such promotion is as dishonest whether willfully dishonest or not as any other form of false marketing and snake oil salesmanship except that this particular snake threatens to bite the young and the innocent plus any consumer or taxpayer that is defrauded in the meantime.

      This is all about Japanese Methane Hydrates and the fracking lobby is only too delighted to play along.- which is just as stupid honestly because the Japanese end-game here is to halt Natural Gas imports.

      The risks Japan is knowingly concealing with this bullshit cover-story of green hydrogen vehicles while deliberately plotting to risk triggering cascade global warming by destabilising gugatons of undersea methane is very likely to be the number one threat faced by humanity at present ahead of nuclear war and non-methane hydrate specific runaway global warming.

      Our only realistic defence as species short of bombing Japan again to get them to cease this astonishing unilateral aggression and propaganda war against all of humanity is to demonstrate to them that destabilising their offshore methane hydrates are uneconomic compared with adopting renewables and EV technology. Exactly what hydrogen advocates of all stripes seek to erode. It is not acceptable and if it is your source of employment you are morally obligated to quit and go public about this scam even if it costs you a little bit of money. The facts are absolutely incontrovertible and concealing them, maintaining a state of delusion or promoting obfuscation is inexcusable.

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