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Toyota continues to prepare the market for fuel cell vehicle in 2015

Toyota Motor continues to lay the foundation for the introduction of its production fuel cell hybrid vehicle in 2015; the company began work on fuel cell technology in 1992. Showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in January in Las Vegas (earlier post), the FCV Concept, which presages the introduction of the series-production vehicle, made its European debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.

Re-emphasizing the general technology points that have emerged over the past few months at different events while adding a bit more detail, Yoshikazu Tanaka, Product General Manager of the Product Planning Group, said at the Geneva show that Toyota’s current fuel cell (FC) system features an output power density of 3.0 kW/L—twice as high as that of its previous FCV, the Toyota FCHV-adv (earlier post). The output power is more than 100kW, despite significant unit downsizing.

Toyota’s view of hydrogen
“Toyota believes that environmentally friendly vehicles can only truly have a positive impact if they are widely used. From the perspective of mobility zones based on travel distance, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles can match the everyday usability of a current gasoline car, and become mainstream environmentally friendly vehicles. An electric vehicle is suitable for short-distance commuting, because of its short cruising distance and long charging time.”
“We regard fuel cell vehicles as promising environmentally friendly vehicles of the future, with high total energy (Well-to-Wheel) efficiency. … On the other hand, fuel cell vehicles are extremely versatile, with a long cruising range and a short fueling time. However, the hydrogen infrastructure needs to be developed. At the moment, each environmentally friendly vehicle has its own shortcomings, and it is up to our customers to decide which vehicle is best for them.”
“In order to give these customers what they want within an appropriate timescale, we are committed to developing a broad range of technologies—including plug-in hybrid, electric vehicle and FCV, corresponding to the simultaneous diversification of energy sources.”
—Yoshikazu Tanaka

Tanaka joined Toyota in 1987 and was first assigned to the development of automatic transmissions such as the 4-speed AT for the first-generation Yaris. From March 2006 he was engaged in Plug-in Hybrid vehicle planning and development, and, in 2007, became planning and development leader for the Prius Plug-in project. Since January 2012, he has been in charge of planning and development for fuel cell vehicles.

With its proprietary, small, light-weight FC Stack and two 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen tanks placed beneath the specially designed body, the Toyota FCV Concept can accommodate up to four occupants.

Tanaka said that Toyota designed a new fuel cell stack that allows water to recirculate within, from cathode to anode, humidifying internally and maintaining the proper moisture balance. Eliminating the need for a humidifier allowed Toyota to simplify the structure of the fuel cell system, making it lighter, smaller and more cost-effective.

For a full-scale market launch in 2015, the cost of the fuel cell system will be 95% lower than that of the 2008 Toyota FCHV-adv, Tanaka said. (A cost target also affirmed by Matt McClory, a Manager with Toyota’s Powertrain System Control group in Torrance, California, in his presentation at the SAE 2014 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium.) For a full-scale market launch of an FCV, the most important issue is the reduction of the fuel cell system cost and, hence, the retail price, Tanaka said. Accordingly, Toyota has worked on making FC systems more competitive; higher-powered, smaller, lighter and cheaper.

Toyota is also considering integrating a boost converter on the stack itself, McClory said at the SAE conference. Although specs are still to be released, McClory suggested for illustration that you could consider the stack itself being at a lower voltage (perhaps 200 V) with the traction motor at 600V. The battery would still be a conventional system as used in hybrids today.

The FCV Concept also uses the current hybrid system’s electric motor, power control unit and other parts and components to improve reliability and minimize cost, Tanaka said.

Powertrain elements, including the two hydrogen storage tanks. Click to enlarge.

Tanaka said that Toyota is in the final stages of development for the 2015 fuel cell vehicle, conducting all kinds of tests, on ordinary roads and in cold climates and extremely hot climates, for example. The company is considering using the Toyota FCV Concept packaging. The Concept exterior design does take a commercial launch into consideration, although there are design elements that are show model-specific only. As such, the production FCV will not be launched just as the FCV Concept appears in Geneva.

To prepare for full-scale FCV popularization after 2020, Tanaka said, the company is placing a high priority on the research and development of fuel cell vehicles to enable sales of several tens of thousands of vehicles per year.

Toyota Group companies will also be conducting research and development into fuel-cell buses (Hino Motors, Ltd.), stationary fuel cell cogeneration systems for residential use (Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd.), and fuel-cell forklifts and other industrial vehicles (Toyota Industries Corporation).

A new FC bus jointly developed by Toyota and Hino Motors will be launched in 2016. Toyota Group companies utilize jointly the technology and know-how which each individual company has cultivated.



The building blocks are being put in place for the technology.
High temperature electrolysis can hit 75% efficiency, and output hydrogen already at 80 bar:

' Total H2A-
calculated hydrogen production costs for the reference 1,500 kg/day forecourt hydrogen production plant
were $3.12/kg. The all-electric plant design using electric resistance heaters for process heat, and the
reference design operating below the thermal-neutral voltage had calculated lifecycle hydrogen
productions costs of $3.26/kg and $4.89/kg, respectively. Because of its larger size and associated
economies of scale, the 50,000 kg/day central hydrogen production plant was able to produce hydrogen at
a cost of only $2.68/kg.'

Table 15 in the last link shows the compression, storage and distribution costs too, so you end up with around $5/kg/gge

Since you can get over 60mpge from a small SUV FCEV that works out to a very reasonable cost per mile.

That cost would be further reduced in a PHEV configuration, so that customers would run on mains electricity for the first few miles, but have the benefit of a silent, clean all electric vehicle no matter how many miles they had to travel that day.


A 95% reduction in FC cost since 2008 is an amazing success? At that rate, it will compete against 5-5-5 future EV batteries?

Future FCs may soon become an economic alternative for heavy vehicles such as large buses, cargo trucks, locomotives, ships, emergency and load leveling power units etc.


At that rate they will be giving them away with Happy Meals in 10 years. It is a pretty phenominal reduction and I hope to see more.


It is marketing BS. Announce the real vehicle price and the EPA rated range as well as the real price for retail hydrogen and it will look real lousy when compared to a gasser. Not much power or trunk space either and no fuel stations.

Bob Wallace

Can FCEVs get significantly cheaper than EVs? EVs may be as cheap as ICEVs within five years.

FCEVs would have to get quite a bit less expensive than EVs in order to overcome their higher operating costs.

Remember, the majority of the cost of cars is going to be 'the rest of the car'. The propulsion system will be less than 50% of the overall cost.

If the cost of batteries, motor and electronics gets down to $8k, for example, and it costs $1k more per year to fuel a FCEV then the fuel cell, tank and stuff would have to come in well under $3k to be attractive.

After 5 years of operation FCEVs would lose their purchase price advantage.

Well said, Bob. It is a really curious strategy. The only way H2 is going to compete with electricity on price as a transportation fuel is if there is a breakthrough in solar hydrolysis. Even then it would be tough, it's hard to imagine a system as complex as a H2 fuel cell BOP competing with the simplicity of batteries and electric motor on manufacturing cost.

Alan Parker

I still can't see it, especially of Tesla delivers on the Model E. If they do you will have a car that is:

1) Cheaper to buy
2) Cheaper to run
3) MUCH faster and more refined
4) Similar range

The *only* advantage the FCEV will have is refuelling time on longer journeys and the fact is MOST people do not make long journeys MOST of the time. Why Toyota can't seem to understand this I do not know.


What I think is interesting, is that the model presented will likely be very much the style of the next Prius.


The critical thing with any unconventionally-fueled vehicle is fueling infrastructure.  Tesla has a portable Supercharger station.  Can you imagine a portable hydrogen station which still meets all fire and hazmat (LH2 is a freezing hazard) requirements?

Tesla's been throwing up Superchargers all over the place.  The network is growing a lot faster than H2 stations, and for the Tesla the Supercharger is a convenience; for the FCEV, H2 is a necessity.  It's no bet that before you have accessible hydrogen in the populated parts of California, you'll be able to drive coast-to-coast in any Tesla you can buy.

Bob Wallace

"The *only* advantage the FCEV will have is refuelling time on longer journeys"

It's not likely to be a major advantage.

Assume a > 500 mile driving day and both vehicles starting full/charged.

Both will have to stop 2x. The FCEV for about 5 minutes, the EV for about 20. That would get the FCEV to destination 30 minutes sooner.

But while the EV is charging the driver can grab a meal, pee, walk the dog. The FCEV driver is going to have to make any of that extra stops. A 15 minute stop for food and 5 minutes to pee pretty much wipes out the advantage.

And the FCEV driver will have spent 2x to 3x more per mile. Spend $40 to get there ten minutes quicker? And spend 2x to 3x for all other driving as well?

Nothing against FCEVs but I can't make the math work.

Lack of affordable higher capacity batteries could tip things toward FCEVs but it just seems like we're going to see better, cheaper batteries.

It's always fun watching changes in technology.


Bob brings up a point I've made myself: "while the EV is charging the driver can grab a meal, pee, walk the dog. The FCEV driver is going to have to make any of that extra stops. A 15 minute stop for food and 5 minutes to pee pretty much wipes out the advantage."

As someone who HAS made cross-country roadtrips I can tell you - after a few hours you look for reasons to stop and get out of the car.


@EP said:

' Tesla has a portable Supercharger station. Can you imagine a portable hydrogen station which still meets all fire and hazmat (LH2 is a freezing hazard) requirements?'

Wow! You haven't done a lot of reading about the technology you are so critical of, have you?
Here are some portable hydrogen fuelling station suppliers:

That, or similar, is what Toyota used for their climate testing in Death Valley and in Yellowknife.


The engineering to make a fuel cell vehicle a plug in so that short runs are done on cheaper electricity is trivial.

Providing a big enough battery so that really long runs are convenient in a BEV at an economic price is far from trivial.

Here are some portable hydrogen fuelling station suppliers...

Here's a quote from their description of the "Hydrogen Fueler":

The fueling station holds 150 kg of hydrogen...

Or about 9000 miles at 60 mi/kg.  By contrast, a tanker carrying 5000 gallons of gasoline would supply vehicles driving 125,000 miles at 25 MPG.  Further, no price is mentioned.

The Supercharger station operating at 25% duty cycle on 2 connections would supply 60 kW average, or 158 mi/hr at 380 Wh/mi, about 3800 miles/day.  No refills would be required, ever.

If the Supercharger required emergency backup power, it could be teamed up with a Capstone C60 gas turbine generator and a big tank of propane.  The hydrogen station can't make its own hydrogen.

Hydrogen really has no future for ground-based transportation.


Narcissists can not stand to lose, everyone else must lose.


Crude oil,Tar Sands, bio-fuel refineries are very complex, vey large, very costly and great polluters.

Future H2 stations will certainly be simpler, smaller, cheaper and greener, specially in areas with green e-energy.

However, it is not only a matter of convenience and cleanliness but more of a necessity for future green heavy vehicles such and long range buses, heavy cargo trucks, locomotives, ships, heavy machinery etc.

The H2 distribution network does not have to be equivalent to current gas stations. Something between 500 and 1000 specialized stations could cover USA's basic needs.

The H2 distribution network does not have to be equivalent to current gas stations. Something between 500 and 1000 specialized stations could cover USA's basic needs.

There were almost 119,000 gasoline filling stations in the USA as of 2007.  To claim that a mere 500 alternative-fuel stations would give sufficient coverage requires more than just one's personal say-so, to put it mildly.

Bob Wallace

"As someone who HAS made cross-country roadtrips I can tell you - after a few hours you look for reasons to stop and get out of the car."

I just drove from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

I stopped every day for a 20 minute nap.

Roger Pham

Good points, Harvey.
H2 from fueling stations can be made onsite, from low-cost RE electricity and backed-up by more expensive grid electricity, or from NG reformation from NG piping. Never need refueling like existing petrol stations.

I've calculated here that only 500 H2 fuel stations will be needed for Continental USA at the initial roll out of FCV's, based on population density and population for an average of 7-mile driving distance to a station from home.

BEV advocates should rejoice at the coming of FCV's. The reason is not quite obvious, but it has to do with the limited supply of reasonable-cost Lithium. If everyone is rushing to build long-range BEV's at millions of units per year, this will soon escalate the price of Lithium many folds such that it would make BEV's uneconomical. With FCV's to help ease the demand for lithium, the production cost of BEV's will more likely be kept reasonable to maintain a healthy profit for BEV makers.

Long-range BEV's like Teslas, short-range BEV's like Nissan Leaf, PHEV's and FCV's all have their own niche.

1. FCV allows EV owners to operate an EV just like a petrol car, with long range yet without having to plug in daily.
2. BEV like the Tesla model S is an ultimate personal vehicle for the wealthy, with the most internal space, the most ergonomic layout, and the best driving experience and best handling, due to the low center of gravity. Wealthy people don't do long-range driving because they rather fly out. Wealthy retirees are exception who would occasionally want cross-country leisure driving trips, for which SuperCharging stations will serve their needs just fine.

3. Affordable short-range vehicles like the Leaf are affordable BEV for the middle-class two-or-more-car families that just want an economical vehicle for daily commute and around-town driving, with very low fuel cost and very low maintenance cost. Out-of-town trips can be done with other ICEV's, HEV's or FCV's in the family.

4. PHEV's are for those who wants the experience of owning EV's with low-cost fuels, very low maintenance, yet long-range driving, and who are yet afraid of Hydrogen, and yet don't mind the limited luggage space that PHEV's have to sacrifice.
A potential Tesla PHEV will solve the limited-internal-space problems inherent with current-day PHEV's. Alas, Tesla has no intention of ever making PHEV's!


You originally sought to argue:
'Can you imagine a portable hydrogen station which still meets all fire and hazmat (LH2 is a freezing hazard) requirements?'

When I showed that it has not only been imagined, but done, you ignore the fact that you have been blown out of the water and obviously had in no way researched your arguments which were apparently just thrown out because you don't much fancy the technology, and go without pause to another set of quibbles which you expect to be taken seriously.

the latest ones boil down to the fact that hydrogen supply for transport is in early days and low volume, so you wish us to infer that this will forever be the case and is some sort of show stopper.

Even a permanent hydrogen station can be built quickly:
'Completion time at this new station from contract signing, through construction, and to final commissioning with hydrogen, was just seven months.'

Hardly show stopper stuff, is it?


As soon as a post is made here containing a link it gets chucked out by the spam filter.
Bang goes referenced discussion.

I replied to EP to the effect that he has simply ignored the fact that his original claim that:
'Can you imagine a portable hydrogen station which still meets all fire and hazmat (LH2 is a freezing hazard) requirements?'

Is clearly wrong as they already have been used, and just moves on to a new set of quibbles.
It seems that I am unable to reference the source without running up against the spam filter, but permanent hydrogen stations are now being built start to finish in 7 months, so any notion that the infrastructure is a show stopper is unsustainable.


EV insider:
It is even harder to imagine any energy system heavy in renewables which DOESN'T make use of hydrogen very extensively for storage, which is why all the places that are trying for a high proportion of renewables are heavily into hydrogen too.

It doesn't bother me, as I am perfectly happy to have a grid which is mainly reliant on nuclear, but I rather imaging that many of those who are dead set against hydrogen and fuel cells would not welcome that.

That leaves a massive storage problem, which the batteries in cars don't solve, which is why the plans for a lot of renewables in the grid all rely on hydrogen.


Roger is on the right track. A mix of short-mid range BEVs and FCEVs may best meet most requirements.

For example, I cannot convince the majority to install Level I or II chargers in the 144 internal garages and 66 external parking place in our 18-floor condo building. The main Hydro Transformer has more than enough capacity but the local (internal and external) distribution cabling & chargers could cost as much as $4k per vehicle. Very few are ready. Secondly, there are not enough public quick charge stations in operation yet.

As soon as a basic H2 stations network is installed, we would sell our HEVs and buy FCEVs, one of the ideal solution in our area with a large surplus of clean e-energy and cold weather.

william g irwin

What ever happened to NG reforming for the FCV? NG is all over and piped in. Can't NG tanks contain as much energy as H2? Can't the NG reformer be part of the FC system on board an FCV? (OK already, NG is not carbon neutral, But it is here now!)
I have been an NG proponent for years, but always tripped up on the cost, reliability, and operating expense of the compressor. Doesn't a mini H2 station face the same problem? And the compressor also wears and has to be rebuilt fairly frequently.
I believe H2 shares these problems w/NG even if many small local solar/wind H2 generators are considered.

Roger Pham

The beauty about H2 is the ability to store solar and wind electricity (RE) to turn into transportation fuel. No need for refueling of the H2 station. The dropping prices of RE means that eventually, H2 cost will be below that of fossil fuels.

H2 electrolyzer can produce pressures as much as 5-6,000 psi right out of the electrolyzer. For refueling at 5,000 psi, no need for further H2 compression.

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