The final design for Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Fuel Cell Sedan has been unveiled ahead of its Japanese launch in April of next year. The automaker has hung a price tag on its first commercial hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. And it’s not cheap: 7 million yen, which converts to roughly £40,000, AU$73,000 or $70,000. That does, nevertheless, make the pricing competitive with the all-electric Tesla Model S.
Australian availability for Fuel Cell Sedan was not announced. Fuel-cell cars have become a pet project of the Japanese government. Japan is now considering subsidies and tax breaks so vehicles can be purchased by consumers for about 2 million yen (£11,500, $20,000, AU$21,000), the same price as gas-electric hybrids by 2025.
The company sees fuel-cell technology not pure battery-electric cars like the Tesla as the future. Jim Lentz, Chief Executive Officer of Toyota’s North American region said: “The battery-electric vehicles are viable only in a select way, in short-range vehicles that take you that extra mile…But for long-range travel primary vehicles; we feel there are better alternatives, such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and tomorrow with fuel cells.”
General Motors has a fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and is working with Honda for accelerating the development of hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain technology. GM has mentioned the 2015-2020 timeframe for release to the public. Fuel-cell vehicles which combine hydrogen with oxygen for generating electricity as the vehicle goes along, and emit only water vapor as exhaust would presumably compete with plug-in hybrids like Chevrolet Volt and all-electric cars like Tesla.
Besides the high price, one of the biggest challenges is building hydrogen fueling station infrastructure. Japan has stations numbering only in the dozens. California is one of the few states in the US allocating money for a fueling station infrastructure, with plans to have enough stations to support 10,000 vehicles.