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Toyota Aims to Reduce Fuel Cell Vehicle Cost to 1/10 of Current By Commercialization in 2015; Reduction to Another 1/10 With Scale

Toyota’s targeted cost reductions in fuel cell vehicles. Source: Toyota. Click to enlarge.

In a news conference at the Japan National Press Club on Friday, Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda said that the company plans to begin mass production of electric vehicles in the US in 2012, followed by US production of fuel cell vehicles in 2015. Toyoda positioned EVs for short-distance travel and fuel cell cars for longer ranges. The 2015 date for fuel cell vehicles reinforced remarks made in June by vice president Masatami Takimoto about commercialization prospects.(Earlier post.)

During his presentation at the recent California Air Resources Board (ARB) ZEV Technology Symposium, Tatsuaki Yokoyama, from Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, said that Toyota aimed to reduce the cost of fuel cell vehicles to 1/10 of the current level by design and materials improvement by commercialization in 2015. Following that milestone, the company is targeting reduction to a subsequent 1/10 through scales of economy resulting from increasing mass production.

Design of the fuel cell system and hydrogen storage system plays a critical role in achieving the cost reduction, Yokoyama said. Toyota is simplifying the design of its stack, resulting in downsizing and downweighting, and reducing the amount of platinum catalyst required. (For comparable efforts by General Motors, see earlier post.)

Toyota is also seeking to reduce the cost of fuel-cell system specific materials, through cooperation with materials manufacturers. The third major avenue of cost reduction is the application of mass production technology to the fuel cell stack, the tank, and other components.

As an example, Yokoyama used the carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) hydrogen storage tank. The hydrogen storage tank consists of a CFRP outer shell, with a liner for H2 sealing. Toyota is seeking to reduce CFRP by reducing the wall thickness, by optimizing the laminar structure among other efforts (design). It is also seeking to reduce the cost of CFRP by shifting from an aviation grade to a general-purpose grade (materials). The company is working to develop a low-cost CFRP for a high-pressure hydrogen tank.

Conditions for mass introduction. For mass introduction of fuel cell vehicles, Yokoyama said, Toyota sees that the profitability of every stakeholder—auto OEM, energy supplier, and customer—is essential. In other words, low-cost FC vehicles and a sufficient supply of low-priced hydrogen needs to be available.

Furthermore, he said, both fuel cell vehicles and the hydrogen infrastructure must prove durable and reliable in practical use, and proven in the real world. He noted that it took seven years even for “successful” hybrid electric vehicles to reach annual sales of 100,000 units globally.

Why fuel-cell vehicles? Like the other major automakers, Toyota is positioning fuel cell vehicles as more suitable for longer-range, larger vehicle applications compared to EVs, given the state of battery technology.

This is not an either-or choice between hybrids and electric cars. We [Toyota] will develop a wide range of vehicles to meet the diverse needs of customers. Some will opt for electric cars for shorter distances; others will choose fuel-cell vehicles for longer drives.

—Akio Toyoda

Cover area of EVs, Plug-in Hybrids, and Fuel-Cell Vehicles. Source: Toyota. Click to enlarge.

Based on Toyota’s calculations, fuel cell vehicles begin to best Li-ion equipped EVs in terms of mass required to achieve a practical cruising range of 300 miles after slightly more than 100 miles. In other words, Toyota concludes that the EV is viable for intra-city travel, while the fuel cell (hybrid) vehicle is optimal for inter-city travel.

Toyota’s calculations also find that the well-to-wheel total efficiency of the fuel-cell hybrid vehicle, as measured in the Japanese 10-15 cycle, is 40%, given hydrogen produced from natural gas and on-board storage of 70 MPa.

According to Toyota’s calculations, the fuel cell hybrid has an advantage in well-to-wheel efficiency. Click to enlarge.

That compares to 33% for an EV (with gas-fired power generation producing the electricity); 34% for a Prius-like hybrid; and 19% for a conventional gasoline internal combustion engine. (The fuel cell vehicle efficiency difference between 35 MPa storage and 70 MPa storage is approximately 2%.)

In terms of some of the major technical challenges facing fuel cell vehicles (cold start/driving capability); range; FC durability; and cost), Toyota has demonstrated significant improvements in cold start/driving capability (-30 °C) and cruise range with its current FCHV-adv model. (Earlier post). The company is especially focused on FC durability and cost reduction targeting commercialization in 2015.



I believe that the EV-FCHV well-to-wheel comparisson would only be fair if they included EV well-to-wheel efficiency with the energy coming from renewable sources like hydro, wind, solar and nuclear (or the energy mix of selected countries). The world is heading towards renewables, so it is silly to base the calculation on natural gas which is a quickly diminishing resource and not even very representative as the source of power generation.

Of course, it would seriously change the result to the advantage of EVs so I believe Toyota has some agenda distorting the calculations. They probably believe that they have a better position with FCHV developments than with EV development so they push FCHV technology. They should stop spreading BS and start working harder on their EV program and battery systems.


I believe they leave out the batteries required in a FCV if the peak fuel cell power is NOT adequate for acceleration/hills; if the peak fuel cell power IS adequate for acceleration/hills then the FCV will have no regeneration.


I meant to say
"I believe they leave out the efficiency of batteries .."


"New Siemens Gas Turbine Exceeds Original Rated Output; 60%+ Efficiency. 4 October 2009" GGC.

60% might be a few years away, but even a 50% power plant gives 43% W2W.

And why does fuel cell wheel-to-wheel efficiency differ for storage pressure?

Does "wheel-to-wheel" efficiency include vehicle weight?

Seth Hollar

For an electric vehicle, natural gas is converted to electricity to run the motor of the car.

For a FCV, natural gas is converted to H2 which is then converted to electricity to run the motor of the car.

So how is it that an FCV is more efficient if ultimately both of them convert electricity to run the motor, but one of them requires an intermediate step of hydrogen? Of course, I am leaving out details like charging and discharging the battery, compressing and transporting hydrogen, etc. I still find it hard to believe, however, that EV's are 33% efficient while FCV's are 40%. Are they including the extra weight from the batteries, too?

I love how these articles compare current technologies to future technologies. It goes like this: how well do current EV's stack up to future FCV's? Is the assumption here that today's battery technology will be unchanged for the next 10 years. It could be very well true that batteries continue to improve to the point that FCV's will never be a viable option.


...and a sufficient supply of low-priced hydrogen needs to be available...

This is the main question. Low-priced hydrogen does not fall out of the sky, and if they mean that the government should subsidise hydrogen so it becomes competetive, then that distorts the reality. Subsidising a resource is not the same as subsidising a new technology.

My second comment is a repetition of what soltesza already said. Renewable energy sources generate electricity. Producing H2 from that by electrolysis will make the FCV significantly more expensive to operate (in energy cost per km) compared to an EV that uses that electricity directly.

As a last note I think that the convenience of charging your car at home instead of having to pay a visit to a gas station regularly will be the main appeal of the EV.

His comparison to the uptake of hybrids is not applicable. A hybrid is still a petrol car, and it still has an ICE and drives more or less the same as an ordinary car. An FCV or EV however is something completely different, it doesn't need petrol and has no ICE. If these advantages appeal to the public, then uptake of those technologies can be much faster than hybrids.

We sure have interesting times ahead.


Toyota wasn't part of the "Big 3" SuperCar and FreedomCar failed tax handouts. Instead, Toyota marketed the Rav4 EV (until Chevron ended the batteries), Prius, and engineered hybrid options - so there's a fuel cell possibility.

Still, it's easy to promise six years from now. A cost reduction factor of 100 seems pretty impossible.


Combined cycle natural gas power plants are at 60% efficient today. That puts the EV well to wheel efficiency at over 50% beating the fuel cell, especially since the figure they use for the fuell cell is more efficient than the power plant being used to generate the electricity from the natural gas!

With a 40% efficient fuel cell, the fuell cell vehicle comes out less efficient than the prius, even more so if the prius could run directly on the naural gas.


Toyota will mass produce battery EVs in the US by 2012. That is interesting and might be trusted as it is only 3 years away.

However, it sounds hopelessly naïve to believe in a 90% reduction in the cost of fuel cells in 6 years from today and then a further reduction to 99% of current prices for fuel cells. That is not going to happen with a platinum based fuel cell. Platinum costs 1400 USD per ounce (30 grams) and its price has been increasing ever since vehicle producers started to use it for emission control devises. See links below.

For comparison the current generation fuel cell in the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell electric vehicle use 80 grams of platinum and it only last for 50.000 miles of driving. See links below.

Price of platinum

Platinum in Equinox Fuel Cell

Duration of Equinox Fuel Cell



For an electric vehicle, natural gas is converted to electricity to run the motor of the car.

The long term plan is to run these ev's on renewably generated electricity. Only in the transitional fase will natural gas fired power plants be necessary.

EV's and renewable electricity must be rolled out in parallel. Both rollouts will take a minimum of 4 decades to complete.


I reiterate Anne's comment that "H2 does not fall out of the sky".
Today, there is no H2 infrastructure.
They might be able to build them cheaper but if you can't fill it up, who's going to buy them?

Richard Batty

I don't trust the numbers used by Toyota. They claim 59% efficiency for Tank-to-Wheel for fuel cell. While this is possible, a low cost portable fuel cell may end up less efficient and is unlikely to get much better over time. Looking at gas-fired Power generation, the 39% is correct for the average plant in use today. The new generation combine cycle plants are already running at 62% efficiency. Using a new NGCC plant you get 52% Well-to-Wheel for an electric vehicle v.s. 40% for fuel cell.

Now the grid does not get 100% power from Natural gas. The Coal plant can be converted to Gasification Combined Cycle. Hydro-electric is already being used, Nuclear is big and is going into renaissance. The growth of wind is just the icing on cake.

If your goal is to reduce Fossil use, I don't see how anything can come anywhere close to Battery Electric. Battery Electric does have it's problems (Fuel Cell have more), but efficiency is not one of them.


FC vehicles are one more type of Extended Range Electric Hybrid with the low cost ICE genset replaced with an extremly expensive FC stack. Both are EVs with various e-storage unit size.

FC vehicles will require a very expensive (non-existant) hydrogen infrastructure. Was it fully figured in Toyota's evaluation?

Where clean renewable electricity is already available, at a rather low cost, a PHEV with a very small efficient on-board ICE genset could easily replace the two vehicles proposed by Toyota.

In many countries, most people cannot afford one vehicle let alone two vehicles. Will Toyota convice the world to two vehicles.....?

However, an FC vehicle may be an added option in the vehicle mix. An FC operated directly from NG may represent a valuable option. Instead of drawing power from the grid it could supply enough power for two to three houses and would not need an Hydrogen infrastructure.


Reforming nat gaz to then compress it to 700 bars to feed a fuel cell, is just a stupid idea even if it returns 40% well to wheel efficiency. Directly compress natural gaz at 200 bars and run your ICE engine it will also return close to 40%, will be also almost as clean and won't necessitate all that high tech development. Agin technology is not a goal in itself if it serves no purpose or when the same result can bu obtained otherwise without it.


Um it makes sense tho I expected some of the numbers to be a bit better.

Remember well to tank for ev includes AVERAGE eff of power plants and losses in power lines and in the charger and battery. So ya 100 kwh of nat gas would in most cases result in 39 kwh in a pack. And we already knew both the motor and the dc ac converter were not 100% so um ya 85% makes some sense.

So ya 33% overall is close to what you would expect.

On the fuel cell side...

We already knew nat gas to h2 is far better then nat gas in a power plant and down the grid and through a charger.

The 67% for 10k psi and 69% for 5k is close to what one would expect as most forms of h2 generation from nat gas are 80% ish eff. As for the tank to wheels remember this is a hybrid AND fuel cells are improving in eff. We now know toyotas fuel cell stack is 59% tank to wheels and we know they are using the same ac dv thinger and motor as the ev so that took it from 100 to 85... so the fuel cell itself is taking it from 85 to 59 so um er uh it looks like they are targeting 70% eff fuel cell and hybrid drive combo thingywhatzit which oddly enough is the goal they ALL made back years ago for the rollout of fuel cell cars.


And there are water splitting technologies still under wraps that would greatly reduce the cost of H2 production. Something Toyota may be counting on. Energy industries desperately want a fuel for their established infrastructure. Either this or they watch their gas stations become vacant lots - like in the commercial for Chevy's Volt.

Given the choice of recharging my cell phone as usual at home or going to a gas station to do so - I'll stick with home charging.

Nick Lyons

Well-to-wheels numbers look cooked to me. 67% from CH4 in ground to highly compressed H2 in tank seems very unlikely to me. Combined-cycle power plants running on CH4 do much better than 39%.

As someone else commented, a better near-term option is to run your Prius on domestic CH4--fill up at home, extremely clean, no foreign oil.

Chris at CaFCP

Toyota is likely referencing lab-run well-to-wheels analysis. CaFCP created a summary report of five w2w reports that you can read at

To try to answer a few questions:
W2W for electricity uses a combination of sources. They look at national mixes for a county or for a state, usually in 2012 or 2017. Researchers account for renewables being a part of the mix as regulated by law. Most electricity will come from turbines powered by burning coal or natural gas. Any time you burn something, you release 40-50% of the energy in heat. H2 from natural gas is a molecular process of breaking apart molecules. Steam reforming is about 68-72% efficient. BEVs and FCVs are equally efficient vehicles.

H2 efficiencies change because the well-to-tank includes compression and delivery to the vehicle. It requires more energy to compress the H2 to 700bar than 350bar. If the energy comes from solar panels, it's considered to be 100% efficient. If it comes from a gas-fired power plant, it's considered to be 50% efficient.

Efficiency is just one piece of the pie, though. Car companies also have to meet ZEV standards, fuel producers and utilities have to meet CO2 regulations, and people have to buy cars, trucks and SUVs that they will use to replace the gas vehicles they drive today.


Anne said:

"EV's and renewable electricity must be rolled out in parallel. Both rollouts will take a minimum of 4 decades to complete."

I'd agree that it may take 40 years to convert our electricity generation over to renewables, but I would tend to think EV's will have taken over much sooner than that. It seems pretty reasonable that within 5 years we will be able to buy plugin series hybrids with 140 mile range and better performance than existing gasoline powered cars, priced below $25,000 (when Chevron's NiMH battery patent expires in 2014 these great inexpensive batteries will again be available for use). Since the range anxiety issue is nil with plugin hybrids, I can't see any rational consumer not buying a plugin series hybrid in favour of a purely gasoline powered car. This will be in 5 to 10 years' time. And considering that the average lifetime of a car nowadays is 10 years, and that people will be itching to get rid of their gasoline powered cars when EV's come out, I think the transition will happen much faster.

This is something FCV's will have to compete with, and I can't see how they will be able to do this.


These comments are pushing batteries over fuel cells.
Your argument is based on which is most efficient.
Who cares. It's the cost that will determine the winner.
Gas motors are the least efficient yet they rule the car world.
Side note. If battery is better than fuel cells, why are big warehouses
replacing there battery forklifts with fuel cell forklifts.



You make a good point. If the efficiency difference between FCV and BEV, as claimed by Toyota, simply comes down to the method used in converting natural gas to electricity, then isn't it more efficient over-all to install the Fuel Cells at power plants to replace heat cycle turbine generation?

After-all, an FCV is basically an EV so must have a battery pack anyways. Putting millions of high pressure, highly explosive, hydrogen storage tanks onto the world's roads can be avoided by simply using centralised generation using FCs.

I don't recall any news regarding a Fuel Cell utility grade power generation plants to replace turbine generation methods.

Bob Wallace

Joshua - gas motors ruled in the past. They are quite unlikely to rule in the future.

Take an EV that uses 0.25 kWh per mile. With average US electricity prices at $0.105 that comes to about three cents per mile.

Three cents per mile in a gas car? You'd have to get 35 MPG and buy your gas for $1 per gallon.

(Plus EVs are just a whole bunch danged faster off the line. ;o)


Paul, I think it comes down to cost. A fuel cell sized for a power plant would be ridiculously expensive. But a combined cycle gas power plant isn't. Whereas a fuel cell sized for a car is still expensive, it is in the same ballpark as a regular car. But putting a 60% efficient combined cycle natural gas power plant in every car.....



PEVH with 140 miles range 5 years from now at less than 25K ...dream of it. I bet you won't have a 40miles PHEV 5 years from now for 35 K. This kind of transition will take much more longer than you think


Ok to understand whats going on here are some simple facts.

In one generation gm will have increased durability 400% from 30k miles to 120k.

In 1 generation they dropped platinum use by 63% and they intend to do it again by even more in the generation after that.

In one generation they replaced 8 expensive and large hydrogen pumps with 1 the size of a finger.

In one generation they replaced 800 very expensive and hard to make separators per stack with stamped stainless steel plates that can be made 10000 times faster and massively cheaper too. AND they intend to need fewer of them.

On top of all this the membranes they use got alot cheaper more durable and because they made the cells 60% smaller they use 60% less membrane as well.

Oh and dont forget to note the gm stack ALSO included the motor on the bottom...

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