02
October
2014
|
02:15
Europe/Amsterdam

Toyota fuel cell sedan the car of the future is here

After more than 20 years of research, Toyota's vision of the car of the future has become a reality. Presented to the public for the first time at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the new Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan is capable of carrying 4 passengers in comfort. It has a range comparable to that of a petrol engine vehicle and may be refuelled in just 3 minutes, yet emits nothing but water vapour.

The world's first production hydrogen-powered sedan is a development of the Toyota FCV Concept which made its international debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. Though remaining faithful to the avant-garde styling of that concept, the Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan's radiator grille, headlamps and rear lights as well as the aerial, roof and fuel-filler flap have been modified in the interests of road-going practicality. And the concept's cameras have, of course, been replaced by classic exterior rear-view mirrors.

The Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan will be launched in Europe in 2015.

Specific Architecture

Designed to provide a practical solution to motorists' everyday requirements, the new hydrogen-powered Toyota is a front-wheel drive 4-door, 4-seater sedan. It features performance and a cruising range similar to a gasoline engine vehicle and a refuelling time of roughly three minutes

To maximise cabin space and lower the centre of gravity, a distinctive feature of its architecture is that the fuel cell, battery and tanks are installed under the floor. The two tanks store hydrogen at pressures of up to 700 bar.

The front compartment houses the electric motor, electronic control system and boost converter. Increasing the voltage produced by the fuel cell, this converter has allowed both the size of the motor and the number of cells to be reduced, thus cutting costs and increasing performance.

Since 2002, when Toyota began renting Highlander SUV-based fuel cell vehicles to Japanese and North American customers, technology has advanced considerably.

A key feature of this new generation of fuel cell is that it has no humidifier. The humidity required for its operation is derived directly from the production of water inherent in the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. The structure of the cell is therefore simpler, more reliable, more compact, lighter and, all-in-all, cheaper.

Commercialisation

The car will go on sale in Japan before April 2015, and preparations are underway for launches in the U.S. and European markets in the Summer of 2015.

In Japan, the Fuel Cell Sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately 7 million yen (MSRP - excludes consumption tax). Initially, sales will be limited to regions where a hydrogen refuelling infrastructure is also under development. Europe and U.S. prices have not yet been decided. More detailed information, such as specifications, exact prices and sales targets, will be announced at a later date.

Toyota's Stance on FCV RandD

Toyota's commitment to environmentally-friendly vehicles is based on three basic principles: embracing diverse energy sources developing efficient, low-emission vehicles and driving real and positive environmental change by popularising these vehicles.

Hydrogen is a particularly promising alternative fuel. It can be produced from a wide variety of primary energy sources — including solar power and wind power — and is easy to store and transport. When compressed, it has a higher energy density than batteries. In addition to its potential as a fuel for home and automotive use, hydrogen could be used in a wide range of further applications, including large-scale power generation.

Fuel cell vehicles contribute to the diversification of automobile fuels, emit no CO2 or environmentally harmful substances during operation, and offer all the convenience of gasoline-powered cars. Toyota believes they have a great deal of potential, and are ideal environmentally-friendly vehicles with which to promote a sustainable-mobility society.

The Hyfive Project

The aim of the Hyfive Project (Hydrogen for Innovative Vehicles) is to speed up the introduction of hydrogen-powered cars on European roads. 15 car manufacturing and energy providing partners are involved. They will join forces to ensure a coordinated deployment of fuel cell vehicles, in conjunction with the establishment of the refuelling infrastructure required for their operation.

Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Honda and Hyundai will be responsible for the deployment of a fleet of 110 vehicles to 6 European cities -Bolzano, Copenhagen, Innsbruck, London, Munich and Stuttgart. A network of hydrogen refuelling pumps will be developed simultaneously within these 5 regions, as well as in Sweden, a close neighbour of Denmark.

From now until the effective launch of the programme at the end of 2015, the vehicles deployed by Toyota will be equipped with a continuous data login system for the entire duration of the 3-year project. Thus they will provide the engineers with detailed, day-to-day feedback on their use and performance, information essential to the further development of this fledgling technology.

For all stakeholders, this project will also build the public image of the hydrogen-powered car.