Cars for future fuels

By Colin Ricketts - 17 Jul 2014 9:5:0 GMT
Cars for future fuels

The elegant lines, rapid acceleration and good range should make this Toyota sell in developing countries and extreme climates in the future. For now, they want to improve that slow uptake that followed the first Prius hybrids; FCV image; Credit: © Toyota-Global

The chemistries and technologies we have mentioned on green developments include photosynthetic production of hydrogen and solar powered vehicles. The latest from the world’s largest car-maker uses hydrogen that currently comes from fossil fuels in the classic fuel cell. While others have made fuel cell cars as a class above electric cars, the costs are greater and there are few hydrogen sources available to a motorist.

The solution for Toyota today is an expensive but long range and long-lasting alternative to electricity. Electric cars (or EVs) also use fossil fuels in the making of their electricity, so it’s no come-down to wait till we have better chemists! Like EVs, the FCV doesn’t pollute. The hydrogen only burns to produce water.

Working on fuel cells for 22 years, Toyota manages a 700km(430mile) range for this new car, with reduced weight and the attraction of 3-minute refuelling-when you can find the hydrogen. We wonder if some hydrogen could be carried in the boot for special situations where the range was a problem. The use of fuel cells in fork-lift trucks and buses will also add to the background Toyota can bank on to aid development of this passenger car. Speed, like that of electric vehicles, is faster than any comparable directly fossil-powered car, with 134hp (100kW) available. The noise levels are equivalent to the EV while the torque is now similar to EVs. Remember that until the technologies we noted at the beginning come good, the hydrogen will be obtained from oil or gas derivatives.

With the success, despite some distractors, of the Prius car and many of its relatives, Toyota would seem to have the hybrid market well-covered. This venture will naturally take customers from that market, but this is in the future, 6 months hence in Japan and about a year elsewhere. In that time and for the next few years, the development of hydrogen depends, like that of EVs on fuel supply. This car s boastful of its capacity to supply your house with electricity for a week in an emergency. With other abilities such as really low temperature operation (-30o C, certain users will be attracted to a regional capability for extreme climates.

The price is available, with savings from subsidies and road tax payments a major attraction reducing the large outlay. Buying one in Japan next April will cost less than $70,000 with subsidies, double the Prius price. Satoshi Ogiso, the chief engineer, remarks on the significance with, “Hydrogen marks an even bigger step than a hybrid. It is our proposal for a totally new kind of car. If you want to experience this new world, if you want to go green, this is it.” We tend to agree, with acceleration of such a light vehicle, good range and attractive styling giving the look of a real car for the future.

There of plenty of further reading on the Toyota site in - Toyota’s new FCV.