It’s no secret that electric cars the way we know them today represent an intermediate phase in the ongoing drive to replace petroleum-derived fuel for automotive applications. Most carmakers believe that the real future is in hydrogen fuel cells. In a nutshell, a fuel cell system converts the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen directly into electricity to run electric motors with the only by-product of this conversion being water vapor.
Toyota is one of the major players in the automotive industry that is actively working to implement the technology on production cars stating that it believes Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicles offer “the best solution to the challenges of energy sources and emissions, with hydrogen as an ideal, ultra-clean fuel”.
The Japanese carmaker will present a more production ready version of the hydrogen-powered 2011 FCV-R study (pictured here) at the Tokyo Motor Show this November, with the actual production model to go on sale in 2015 at a price currently guesstimated between $50,000 and $100,000.
We’ll get a sneak peak of the most recent development for the FCV-R at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show in September where Toyota will demonstrate it’s Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle system that it says, “is closing in on its goal of achieving a driving range and performance comparable to conventional petrol and diesel engines, but with no harmful tailpipe emissions”.
The FCV-R concept, which is 4,745mm (186.8-inches) long or about 35mm longer than an Avensis saloon, 1,510mm (59.5 inches) high and 1,790mm (70.6 inches) wide, uses a modified version of the Toyota Prius’ Hybrid Synergy Drive system, in which the petrol engine is replaced with a fuel cell and the conventional fuel tank with high-pressure hydrogen tanks. It uses the same electrical components as well as a 21kW battery to store energy recovered by its regenerative braking system.
Toyota says it has tested the system and it has achieved a maximum driving range of about 420 miles or 676 kilometers, producing zero CO2, NOx or particulate matter emissions.
The Japanese carmaker stated that it expects “FCHVs to reach full mass-market commercialisation during the 2020s, by when it aims to be selling tens of thousands of vehicles annually”. The growth will spur development of hydrogen refueling infrastructure and will help lower the costs as the technology matures and is used more widely.