Toyota used the Los Angeles Auto Show to announce results from a recent seven-day, 2,300-mile drive in a Toyota Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle (FCHV) from Fairbanks, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia along the Alaska-Canadian highway (ALCAN).
The trek confirmed substantial progress in reliability and durability, cold-weather operation and extended range capability of Toyota’s hybrid fuel cell system, according to the company.
One of the key reasons why engineers chose the route from Fairbanks, Alaska to Vancouver is that Canada allows mobile re-fueling of high-pressure hydrogen vehicles along its public highways. Without a network of hydrogen fueling stations every 300 miles, mobile refueling was a necessity.
Two companies were enlisted to assist with mobile refueling. Linde provided the rolling supply of hydrogen, while Canadian-based Powertech Labs supplied a self-contained re-fueling station. Mounted on two separate flat-bed trucks, the refueling team moved in advance of the Highlander FCHV, setting up shop at pre-determined intervals. A RAV4 camera vehicle stalked the FCHV from start to finish, while a pair of Toyota Tundra pickup trucks followed as support.
Vehicle preparation consisted of adding tubular guards for the grille, rockers and rear-end, a roof rack and a few graphics to mark the occasion. Every mile of the journey was monitored in real-time by a dedicated laptop program that measured distance, time, speed, and hydrogen tank temperature and fuel-consumption. The entire trip was shot in high-definition video. To verify and chronicle the achievement, Road & Track Magazine engineering editor Dennis Simanaitis was invited to come along as referee and co-driver.
The vehicle averaged more than 300 miles per tank. On the first leg—a 316-mile run from Fairbanks to Beaver Creek across the Canadian border in order to refuel legally, the FCHV could have covered nearly 400 miles, according to the onboard monitoring system.
Fuel cells and plug-in hybrids, pure electrics and Lithium-ion batteries and much more, will all be part of a future that will require more that just building and selling cars and trucks. It will require a whole new way of doing business.—Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager
Toyota’s major product introduction at the LA Auto Show was the 2008 Sequoia full-size SUV. Featuring an all-new DOHC 5.7-liter V8 with Dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i), the 2WD version of the 2008 Sequoia carries an EPA fuel economy rating of 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, 15 mpg combined.