Toyota to unveil fuel-cell car at Tokyo motor show


Wed, Nov 06, 2013 - Page 15

Toyota Motor said yesterday it plans to unveil its latest fuel-cell concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show, with an expected commercial rollout two years away.

The four-seater sedan has a range of 500km — longer than those of previous versions — and can be recharged in just three minutes through hydrogen gas tanks stored inside the vehicle, the Japanese auto giant said ahead of the exhibition later this month.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, said it would launch a commercial version of the mid-sized vehicle by about 2015. By that time, there were likely to be “hundreds” of hydrogen refueling stations in Japan, Europe and the US, it added.

Fuel cell vehicles are considered the holy grail of green cars because they emit nothing but water vapor from the tailpipe and can operate on renewable hydrogen gas.

Toyota’s concept vehicle seeks to jump two key hurdles that analysts say have hindered consumer buying of so-called green cars, including electric vehicles — range and refueling infrastructure.

Relatively high prices have also dented purchasing of green vehicles.

However, demand for lower-emission vehicles is forecast to grow, with further technological advances in the field seen as crucial due to toughening emissions standards.

Apart from Toyota, which is working on its fuel-cell concept car with Germany’s BMW, others are eyeing a widespread commercial offering. They include a Honda joint venture with General Motors and Nissan’s work with Ford and Daimler. Honda already has a commercial fuel-cell car called the FCX Clarity, but it has only been sold in limited markets on a very small scale.

At the Tokyo show, which runs from Nov. 20 to Dec. 1, Toyota is also planning to showcase a prototype taxi for the Japanese market that promises green technology while catering to the nation’s rapidly aging population.

The carmaker said it wanted to commercialize the vehicle ahead of an expected surge in demand when the Japanese capital hosts the 2020 Olympic games.