Toyota could commercialize fuel cell electric vehicles by 2015, as automakers look beyond batteries

January 19 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Transportation   Year: 2015   Rating: 2

Toyota fuel cell

Bloomberg is reporting that Toyota plans to sell a 'limited' line of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to consumers by 2015 or maybe sooner.

Toyota's fuel cell integration strategy (along with Honda, Kia and GM) suggests that the auto industry is looking ahead towards next generation electric drive vehicles that go beyond battery platforms.

Fuel cells vs Batteries?  Or both?
A very profound transition is happening in our world. The 'electrification of the auto industry' has started, but it will take decades to complete.

The tricky part?  'Electric' refers to the motor. 

What delivers electrons to those electric motors is more open to debate.

The popular assumption today is that batteries will power the future of cars.  But the reality is more sobering. Energy storage solutions that are appropriate for the auto industry are not likely to emerge from anything that exists on the commercial market today.

Batteries are a stepping stone to a more fully integrated energy storage system that uses batteries, fuel cells and capacitors - together.

Cars are not iPods, and the cost of building 'plug in' station infrastructure is likely to be prohibitive, if not totally inconvenient to consumers.  Fuel cells and capacitors offer superior cost / size and performance advantages.  And more convenient infrastructure options such as rapid refill or 'swap out' boxes (e.g. solid hydrogen).  

While eco-bloggers are excited over batteries, the long view is more cloudy.  Automakers are hedging their bets on energy storage solutions, and it appears the the 'hype' phase of battery powered cars might be short lived.

Related posts on the Auto Industry at The Energy Roadmap.com

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Image Source: Toyota Fine N Concept car

 

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