Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Transportation Japan Power

Toyota's Fuel Cell Car To Launch In Japan Next March 216

puddingebola writes with news that Toyota will be bringing its first fuel-cell car to market in Japan next March. It's expected to cost about $68,700, and Toyota plans to bring it to the U.S. and European markets later that summer. With two of Japan’s three biggest automakers going all in on fuel cells, the country’s long-term future as an automotive powerhouse could now hinge largely on the success of what they hope will be an important technology in the next few decades. ... Japan’s governing party is pushing for ample subsidies and tax breaks for consumers to bring the cost of a fuel-cell car down to about $20,000 by 2025. The government is also aiming to create 100 hydrogen fuel stations by the end of March 2016 in urban areas where the vehicles will be sold initially. ... Hydrogen vehicles can run five times longer than battery-operated electric cars, and their tanks can be filled in just a few minutes, compared with recharging times from 30 minutes up to several hours for electric cars.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Toyota's Fuel Cell Car To Launch In Japan Next March

Comments Filter:
  • The real price is $70,000. The target $20k price is subsidized by the Japanese government, don't expect similar subsidies in the US.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by DigiShaman ( 671371 )

      Forget subsidies for a moment. In 2025, 20K won't buy you shit with the rate of inflation we have now!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rockout ( 1039072 )
        Since 2008, inflation has been 3.0% or lower every single year. I'm not sure what point you were trying to make, but if it was "inflation is out of control!!" then you're obviously not reading about the history of inflation over the last 50 years.
  • Nice to see. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:02PM (#47317583)

    Right now at the Gas Pump we have 87, 89 and 91 gas.
    Having this change to Gas, Charging, and Hydrogen would be a welcome sign.
    The problem we have with our energy policies is that we are trying to find a sliver bullet. This isn't the case anymore, we will need to have a more diverse set of engines that run on different methods. This will allow for greater competition in the energy market and keep price per performance uniform.

  • The nice thing about fuel cell technology working it's way into to the automotive arena is that it can dovetail quite nicely with the ongoing developments being made with electric vehicles, since there is significant overlap between the two.

    • If you think of a fuel cell as a source of electrical power, your average hybrid car would require little "adjustment" (at least in the drive train) to accommodate getting power from a fuel cell instead of a generator attached to a gasoline engine.

      But, this whole fuel cell thing is nutty from the start. Not a good idea.

    • Only if your goal is to make electric cars much more expensive. Each Honda Clarity FCX costs about $125,000 to manufacture. I haven't heard about any huge breakthroughs that would make this Toyota significantly less. The manufacturers are willing to take a huge loss on each one for a variety of regulatory and PR reasons. Increasing production from their currently tiny numbers isn't going to decrease the unit cost by that much since lots of exotic materials and components are required.

      For recurring costs

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:06PM (#47317621)

    Fuel Cells run on hydrogen. Hydrogen can be obtained by refining oil, but that is more expensive than making gasoline and the only reduction in CO2 comes from the centralization of production (easier to cleanse a refinery's emissions than a vehicle's). Hydrogen can as be obtained without oil, but it is always more difficult than electricity to create and store. Hydrogen is also more difficult to transport than electricity. And now we find out that an established, mass market auto company can't even create an inexpensive Fuel Cell car. Their effort ended up with a car that is just as expensive as a very high quality, fully electric car which was created years ago by an almost brand new car company. Electric cars are superior to Fuel Cells in every possible way. They are the present and future of transportation.

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      Electric cars are superior to Fuel Cells in every possible way. They are the present and future of transportation.

      I couldn't have said it better. Fuel cells are much of a roadbump in the long drive of automotive technology development as are 3D TVs for home entertainment (i.e., not quite as bad as DIVX, but ultimately not mainstream usable). The manufacture and distribution of hydrogen alone is a herculean task let alone the fact that it would require changes to an entrenched distribution network of gas/diesel.

    • by Sqr(twg) ( 2126054 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:33PM (#47317897)

      the only reduction in CO2 comes from the centralization of production

      ...where you can do CO2 sequestration and, theoretically, bring emissions down to zero.

      (Other than that, I agree with everything you wrote. I worked in R&D on automotive fuel cells for seven years and quit because I believe there's no future in it. They might have been a good idea when the competition was lead-acid batteries, but not any longer.)

      • CO2 sequestration as conventionally imagined is just a huge hand out to the coal industry though. Depending on geological strata which no one's even sure can reliably hold that much CO2 as an energy plan is just absurd. It's a plan we don't know will work, which has a limited range of viability to start with, and the results to date are not promising.

        That said, Orico and the CSIRO in Australia have been doing something much cooler with the idea: chemical reactors where heat and CO2 is reacted with minerals

    • Hydrogen can be obtained by refining oil

      Sure it can. But nobody does it that way. Most hydrogen comes from steam reforming [] of natural gas.

      Electric cars are superior to Fuel Cells in every possible way.

      Except for range, fueling time, and (maybe) cost.

      • Sure it can. But nobody does it that way. Most hydrogen comes from steam reforming of natural gas.

        Which is predictably energy-intensive.

        Electric cars are superior to Fuel Cells in every possible way.

        Except for range, fueling time, and (maybe) cost.

        Twice the range is good, but nothing to write home about when diesels are now getting 800 miles, and have been getting 400 for decades — and they can be filled up with carbon-neutral fuel right now, instead of carbon-positive hydrogen-from-natural-gas.

      • According to Honda's website, the Clarity has a range of 240 miles, less than Tesla's EPA range of 265. Definitely not costs seeing as how the hydrogen costs more than gasoline. But you do have fueling time, assuming you can find a hydrogen fueling station.

      • Hmmm. Lets see.
        All fuel cell cars up to this point has been around 300 KM. Now, this one will be 800 KM or 500 miles. So, you can now drive 250 miles away from all 4 locations in which you can fill up at. Not, really that good at range, eh?
        Fueling time does you no good when there are only 12 fueling stations in all of the USA, and only 4 cities. OTOH, you can fuel all over the USA.
        In addiiton, starting next year, Tesla will be doing 90 exchanges of batteries, and will offer batteries with 500 MPC.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blue9steel ( 2758287 )
      On the plus side however hydrogen production would be a perfect match for intermittent power sources like wind or solar. Send any needed amounts to the grid and instead of wasting the excess run a hydrogen production plant.
  • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Wednesday June 25, 2014 @03:07PM (#47317637) Homepage

    ...a true statement in any year.

  • When did HFC cars start getting a range of 1000+ miles? Certainly not Toyota's []. Did the petrol-heads re-entrench with the HFCs now?
    • Yes, I like the fuzzy-math lazy reportage. Five times the range of an electric car is meaningless if you don't say which electric car. Heck, Teslas have a variety of ranges depending on which model you buy.
  • The oil industry likes fuel cells (have run advertising showing off their benefits in the past) - i.e. big money wants this to keep fuel cells going and happen.

    Unsubsidized hydrogen is more expensive than gasoline (to go an equivalent distance in a fuel cell vehicle) at this point.

    Electricity out of the plug, for a battery electric vehicle, in the U.S. averages $1.25 per gallon in gasoline equivalency (sometimes much less at night).
    • The oil industry likes fuel cells (have run advertising showing off their benefits in the past) - i.e. big money wants this to keep fuel cells going and happen.

      They like them because they can get their fingers into your hydrogen. The problem with electricity from their standpoint is the same as Tesla's supposed free energy system. You can get it out of the sky. Batteries keep getting better long past the point where the doomsayers said they would, and cheaper as well. It doesn't take a crystal ball to figure out that it's going to get downright convenient to get your energy without any grid infrastructure whatsoever, and they will not have that. At least, not any

    • All the hydrogen they use in these cars will be produced by steam reforming natural gas. It's the far cheapest way to make the gas.

      At that point why don't you just use a natural gas ICE and skip the whole convert to hydrogen and all the losses it generates.

  • This is a well-understood technology that has existed since the 1960's -- aside from some materials tech not normally associated with car production, it isn't a big leap to create a vehicle that uses a fuel cell -- heck, they could take an existing Plug-in Prius, pull the battery pack, add-in a fuel cell, and job done.

    What *precisely* is making the car this expensive? (I did not RTFA, this *is* Slashdot after all)......

    • The fuel cell, and in specific the requisite platinum catalyst, also economies of scale (or rather lack there of).
    • Once fuel cells are common people won't wast time stealing catalytic converters.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nice to see fuel-cell cars, but they're addressing the wrong problem. Shrinking net energy availability is the problem, fuel-cell cars don't address that. I think smaller cars and (motor)bikes would be more useful. Why does a 100 pound woman buying 10 pounds of groceries need to take a 3000 pound vehicle along with her when a 20 pound bicycle and a back pack would suffice?

    • Because there are times when she needs to take five 200 pound adults and their luggage 300 miles and she can afford only one car.

      • The problem is the inefficient distribution of homes, work and entertainment places, a concept best conveyed by the term "suburbia". Sure, it's nice and probably healthier to live far from the smoke stacks and whatnot of urban existence, but if we want to make the least environmental impact we'd all be living in 1000-storey super skyscrapers or manmade mountains, venturing beyond the city limits only for the occasional sightseeing tour or safari.

    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      Because she probably has kids. Everyone wants their kids to be safe. If everyone else is in a 5000lb suv and you are in a mini, one good punt from an inattentive SUV and your kids are hospitalized or dead while the SUV lady's rug rats are fine. Someone puts their safety ahead of others, then it's a ridiculous arms race to keep up or be crushed. I'm not putting my hypothetical kids in a 1800lb car on an busy American interstate until everyone else is in them too.
      • Which would be relevant if SUV's were remotely safe...

        As it stood for a long time, SUVs were big...and little else. Any car with a decent roll cage and side-airbags was likely going to come out of all but the most disasterous scrapes much better, since it wouldn't be rolling and caving in the roof on it's occupants.

    • Because that woman doesnt exist. In reality its 300 pound woman buying 15 pound mcdonalds lunch.

  • I used to be extremely excited for fuel cell vehicles about 10 years ago. Then I learned that they don't perform well in cold weather, are very dangerous during impact, hydrogen is not easy or cheap to make, and most importantly of all, you still have to go out of your way every so many miles to find a damn station to fill up. Compare that to electric cars which require less maintenance, are safer, work better in the cold (albeit with slightly degraded performance), already have established channels for g
    • Actually, most of the fuel cells will do just fine in the cold, esp the H2 versions.
      In addition, the impact depends on the storage means. But to be fair, it is not much different than any other form of storage. Basically, you have energy that is stored and capable of fire and explosion. Interestingly, with how many accept the danger of gas/diesel, H2 should not be that big of an issue.
      BUT, all of the rest that you say is correct. In fact, H2 will ALWAYS remain very expensive compared to plain old electri
  • Could I get a map of hydrogen refueling stations?

    I want to plan all of my driving to remain at least a quarter mile away from those things.

    One big "boom," and no one will ever drive these things again.

  • The natural gas version of the civic is available, right now, goes about 250 miles on a tank, enough for all but the most insane of commuters, and costs less than 30k.

    A massive natural gas delivery infrastructure is already there, we just need a commitment, via tax credits or outright subsidies, for existing gas stations to add CNG pumps.

    Switching a good portion of the auto fleet over to CNG would lower CO2 emissions and a lot of the nastyer emissions that create ground level smog
    Is it as good as electri
  • Better them than us.

    Though I would rather they'd make fuel cells that run on alcohol, sugar, or a hydrocarbon. I don't expect storing hydrogen will turn out very well, especially for a fuel cell for a cell phone.

  • Just like the nissan leaf, it is highly overpriced, and pretty ugly. What I find interesting is that most major car makers want to go down the pay of H2, when in reality, it is one of the most expensive alternatives to gas/diesel.
  • There's a much better article here [], with numbers (including side-by-side comparisons of efficiencies of battery cars, fuel cell cars and internal combustion cars for fuel processing, fuel usage and total) and interviews with both Toyota, Plug in America etc.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.