23
March
2012
|
04:00
Europe/Amsterdam

Geneva 2012: fcv-r fuel cell concept — revolution and reality

— Toyota's the next step towards mass-produced hydrogen fuelled vehicles

— Innovative packaging within mid-sized family sedan

— Latest interpretation of new Toyota Under Priority design language and Keen Look styling

— Next generation multimedia system with smartphone-type icon display and 3D navigation mapping

— On sale by 2015Toyota believes that, when it comes to the development of future powertrains to safeguard sustainable mobility, one size definitely does not fit all requirements.

Different powertrain needs and solutions are determined not only by vehicle size and travel distance, but also by regional variations in energy availability, infrastructure and regulations.

As hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles replace most of today's conventional cars, electric vehicles will be used for short-distance travel, and fuel cell vehicles for middle- to long-distance journeys.

Reinforcing the company's environmental lead in the drive towards sustainable mobility, Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive® technology has been specifically designed to be 'future proof', and is readily adaptable to use in Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV), Electric Vehicles (EV) and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV).

The Significance of Fuel Cell Technology

Toyota believes that the solutions to energy and emissions issues offered by the Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) make it the closest technology yet to the ultimate eco-car, with hydrogen as an ideal, ultra-clean energy source.

Producing electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen (stored in the vehicle) and oxygen (from the air), a fuel cell structure comprises electrodes and polyelectrolyte films sandwiched between separators. When hundreds of cells are stacked together, the result is a fuel cell 'stack', known as an FC stack.

Generating zero CO2, NOx or PM and with water vapour the only emission, a fuel cell displays outstanding energy efficiency. In theory, it can convert as much as 83% of hydrogen's energy into electric power. This is about twice the efficiency possible with current generation petrol and diesel engines.

Not only does a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain's extreme efficiency save energy and drive down costs, it also delivers a uniquely quiet, smooth driving experience with the bare minimum of noise, vibration or harshness, while providing a long driving range and a refuelling process as quick as that of conventionally powered vehicles.

Key Challenge: The Hydrogen Infrastructure

Offering future global energy security, hydrogen can be made from a wide variety of raw materials, from petroleum and natural gas to biomass. It can also be produced through the electrolysis of water. Carrying out electrolysis using electricity generated from natural energy sources such as solar, wind or hydro-power enables the production of hydrogen without the commensurate generation of significant CO2 emissions.

Nonetheless, a smooth shift to a hydrogen-based society will be a significant undertaking. Reaching a consensus on from what to make hydrogen, how to deliver it and how to implement a fuelling infrastructure depends on the combined efforts of all sectors of society, including governments.

To that end -and in anticipation of the imminent commercialisation of a number of FCVs- Toyota, amongst other manufacturers, signed a Letter of Understanding in September 2009 calling for oil and energy companies and government organisations to cooperate in the creation of hydrogen infrastructure networks of sufficient density in Europe, Japan, Korea and the United States in 2015.

In Europe, a hydrogen infrastructure has already begun to emerge. It is of sufficient density to allow Toyota to road test and build the profile of hydrogen fuel cells as a viable powertrain.

Toyota's 20 Year History of Fuel Cell Development

Toyota began work on FCVs in 1992, developing its own hydrogen fuel cells and high-pressure hydrogen storage tanks in house. The company applies its own Hybrid Synergy Drive® technology to FCV development, replacing petrol engines with fuel cells, and petrol fuel tanks with high pressure hydrogen tanks. The Toyota FC stack is a performance leader in fuel cell technology.

Toyota demonstrated its first Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) in 1996. Every year since then, the company has improved fuel cell technology and extended its capabilities to increase performance, driving range and commercial viability.

In 2002, Toyota developed the world's first Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle for limited lease, and the first FC bus certified by Japanese government. In the past decade, the company has continued its work on residential fuel cell development, put fuel cell buses on the road and, in 2008, launched the FCHV-adv.

The Toyota FCHV-adv offered a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency and, through the use of Toyota-developed, 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen storage tanks, had a single-fill-up cruising range of approximately 830 km -more than twice that of its predecessor. Furthermore, the Toyota FCHV-adv could operate in —30°C, greatly improving its cold weather performance.

Fuel Cell Technology Development Challenges and Testing

Toyota is already overcoming some of the historical barriers to the creation of marketable fuel cell vehicles. This includes closing in on its goal to offer a driving range comparable to conventional powertrains and performance at temperatures down to -35°C.

Following further fine-tuning and technological development, Toyota will introduce an affordable sedan-type FCV which matches the performance of conventional, combustion engine vehicle in Japan, the U.S. and Europe by 2015.

In addition, Toyota is preparing to be able to supply tens of thousands of vehicles annually in the 2020s, when FCVs are expected to achieve full, mass-market commercialisation. This market growth will be boosted by the further roll out of FCV technology, the increased availability of hydrogen refuelling stations and the reduction in costs which accompanies a maturing technology.

The FCV-R Concept — Futuristic Styling and Advanced Infotainment

Through the fusion of advanced technology, smart thinking and intelligent packaging, the FCV-R combines breakthrough innovation with ergonomic practicality and futuristic styling.

Incorporating the Under Priority and Keen Look design elements of the latest Toyota family design, the front and rear styling employs a "W" motif, symbolizing the fuel cell cooling system. This creates a sleek, aerodynamically efficient cabin silhouette and a unique road presence.

Within the clean, crisply detailed interior, the seats are 'robed' in the manner of traditional Japanese costume. A centre console-mounted, twin-screen evolution of Toyota Touch Life -recently launched on Toyota iQ- provides easy access to the main infotainment controls.

The lower, icon-display touch-screen is designed to control the navigation, audio and air conditioning systems. Located within the driver's line of sight to minimise distraction time, the upper screen displays the most relevant driver information, including the navigation map and guidance in 3D.

The system has been designed for easy connection with a smartphone, both replicating phone applications on the vehicle's display screen and relaying vehicle information to the phone.

Much of the smart thinking behind the FCV-R can be seen in the interior packaging. The vehicle is just 4,745 mm long, 1,510 mm high and 1,790 mm wide. The fuel cell stack is smaller than in previous FCVs, and sits under the seats, along with twin hydrogen tanks.

The combined volume of the hydrogen tanks equips the FCV-R with a driving range of approximately 700 km whilst generating zero CO2, NOx or PM and with water vapour the only emission. The twin hydrogen tanks and the FC stack are located beneath the vehicle floor, maximising both cabin and luggage space to create an entirely practical family sedan.