Toyota unveils prototype fuel cell vehicle

Toyota Motor Corp. has allowed journalists in Japan to test drive a prototype of its fuel cell sedan this week. A similar vehicle with a different exterior will debut at November’s Tokyo Motor Show. The car is scheduled to arrive in the U.S., Japanese and European markets from 2014.

Toyota Motor Corporation Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso said: “Earlier would have been better, but it’s taken a long time to get to this point. We’ve already started work on the next-generation vehicle. We can’t wait.”

Toyota has not set a manufacturing volume target for its hydrogen car, though deliveries should reach tens of thousands annually by 2020, Ogiso said. By that point, he said the cost of the system should fall by at least half.

Toyota’s 2015 model fuel cell car will have more than 500 km (311 miles) of range per fuelling, according to the company. Pricing hasn’t been announced, although U.S. Toyota executives have previously said it may cost about $50,000. Toyota engineer Hitoshi Nomasa said the company had cut its use of platinum, which sells on world markets around $1,380 per troy ounce (31 g), from around 100 g in the fuel cell of its current hydrogen-powered SUV model to around 30 g.

The prototype driven this week had the new powertrain system in the chassis of a Lexus HS 250h, a model that is larger than a Corolla compact and smaller than a mid-size Camry, or about the size of a Prius. The new model, which will be sold under the Toyota brand, will be on a modified platform of the HS, which is sold as the Toyota Sai in Japan.

Toyota’s new model holds around 5 kg of compressed hydrogen in tanks that can be fully refuelled in three minutes.