Toyota Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car Expected to Launch in 2015

Japanese carmaker Toyota will introduce its first hydrogen-powered car in the United States in 2015, one full year earlier than the company had projected just a few weeks ago. The Toyota hydrogen car, dubbed FCV for now, will hit the California market first before being rolled out to the rest of the country. Toyota senior vice president Bob Carter announced the company’s revised plans at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in early January.

Toyota’s First Hydrogen-Fueled Vehicle

The all-electric Toyota fuel cell car is the first vehicle from the company that will feature a hydrogen-powered battery. According to Toyota, the FCV will only emit water vapor as exhaust, and will have a range of up to 300 miles when fully charged. The hydrogen fuel cell Toyota is designed to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 10 seconds, and has a hydrogen tank that can be refilled in less than three minutes.

Long-Term Plans

The FCV will cost between $50,000 and $100,000. Toyota’s goal is to ship the car at a price point that is at the lower end of that range, according to company executives. Toyota is currently collaborating with researchers at the University of California, Irvine and with the California state government to set up hydrogen refueling stations in the state. Toyota estimates that the state needs to put up just 60 strategically placed hydrogen-refueling stations to support up to 10,000 cars.

California has currently pledged $200 million to help build up to 100 refueling stations by 2014. The state hopes to have at least 20 fueling stations in place by the time the first Toyota hydrogen fuel cell car rolls out of its assembly lines, and another 20 by the end of 2016. Toyota executives have not revealed how many of the hydrogen-powered cars the company hopes to sell annually in the United States. But, the company has claimed that its decision to move up the planned introduction date stems from the increased interest in the vehicle among U.S. consumers.

Rival Introductions

Toyota’s move might also have been spurred by rivals such as Hyundai and Honda. Both automakers plan to introduce similar cars in the U.S. in 2015. Hyundai announced its Tucson Fuel Cell Vehicle at the Paris Auto Show in September 2012. The company is currently in low-volume production of the vehicle, but hopes to rapidly ramp up its manufacturing abilities by the end of 2014. The car is expected to have the same hydrogen fuel cell efficiency as the Toyota FCV. Hyundai plans to sell between 1,000 and 2,000 of the vehicles in the first two years. The company has not released a list price for the vehicle yet, but claims that customers will be able to lease it for under $500 per month.

Honda’s FCX Clarity zero-emissions vehicle is also expected to hit the U.S. market in 2015. The five-passenger, four-door hydrogen-powered vehicle will have a range of 300 miles on a full charge and offers comparable acceleration to Toyota’s FCV. Honda has been developing hydrogen-powered cars for more than a decade now, and already has carved a niche for itself in the market for zero-emissions vehicles. Pricing details for the 2015 FCX Clarity have not been released. Honda’s current generation Clarify FCX vehicles lease for about $600 a month.