Toyota Advanced Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle Achieves 431 Mile Estimated Range; Toyota Targeting Commercialization Within Six Years
The Toyota Highlander Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle – Advanced (FCHV-adv) (earlier post) achieved an estimated range of 431 miles on a single full tank of compressed hydrogen gas, and an average fuel economy of 68.3 miles/kg (approximate mpg equivalent) during a day-long trip down the southern California coast.
In mid-2008, the US Department of Energy (DOE), Savannah River National Laboratory (SNRL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), approached Toyota to participate in a collaborative evaluation of the real world driving range of the FCHV-adv. On 30 June 2009, two fuel cell vehicles, two Toyota Technical Center engineers, an SRNL engineer and a NREL engineer completed a 331.5 mile extended round trip drive between Torrance, California and San Diego.
The drive began at TMS headquarters in Torrance, traveled north to Santa Monica, turned south to San Diego and finally retraced the route back to Torrance. The route encompassed a variety of drive cycles, including high speed highway driving, moderate highway driving and stop and go traffic on surface streets, in an effort to capture a typical commute. Each vehicle was outfitted with a data collection system that captured vehicle speed, distance traveled, hydrogen consumed, hydrogen tank pressure, temperature and internal tank volume.
Driving range data from each vehicle was calculated by SRNL and NREL engineers. The results were averaged for an estimated range of 431 miles, with an average fuel economy of 68.3 miles/kg.
This evaluation of the FCHV-adv demonstrates not only the rapid advances in fuel cell technology, but also the viability of this technology for the future.—Jared Farnsworth, Toyota Technical Center advanced powertrain engineer
For comparison, the 2009 Toyota Highland Hybrid achieves an EPA-estimated rating of 26 mpg combined fuel economy and has a full-tank range of approximately 450 miles. With premium grade gasoline currently priced at about $3.25, the gasoline-powered V6 Highlander hybrid is estimated to travel approximately 26 miles at a cost of about $3.25. Currently, hydrogen gas pricing is not fixed, but DOE targets future pricing at $2 to $3 per kilogram. Therefore, Toyota estimated the FCHV-adv to travel approximately 68 miles at a projected cost of about $2.50 - more than double the range of the Highlander Hybrid, at equal or lesser cost, while producing zero emissions.
SRNL and NREL analyzed all data gathered during the evaluation and prepared a formal report to DOE verifying range results and miles per kilogram achieved. This report will assist regulators and government research programs to accurately assess the status of the fuel cell industry and viability of the current technology.
Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell technology has advanced rapidly over the last two years. In 2015, our plan is to bring to market a reliable and durable fuel cell vehicle with exceptional fuel economy and zero emissions, at an affordable price.—Irv Miller, TMS group vice president, environmental and public affairs
Separately, at the Center of Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, said:
I have started the ball rolling at Toyota by asking our associates around the world to develop answers for the next 100 years. We intend to pursue those answers with a passion…and efforts are already under way. Twelve years ago, we developed the first 21st century car...the hybrid Prius. So far, we have sold 2 million hybrid vehicles around the world ...and more are coming.
Late this year, we will launch a plug-in hybrid for fleet customers...followed by a pure electric vehicle in 2012. We’re also making great progress on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and hope to make this technology available and affordable for customers within the next half dozen years. As to alternative fuels, we have extensive research projects under way...in house...and with outside partners...and will not rest until we find a suitable substitute for oil.
We are proceeding on all these fronts because there is no one solution for future needs, but the need for many. Because energy solutions that work for Traverse City may not be the best for Shanghai, or Sydney, or Sao Paulo.