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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.


Roger Pham

Plus, H2 in FC is twice as efficient as ICE at peak efficiency (70% vs 35%) and 3x more efficient than ICE at part load typical of LDV during cruise. Efficiency of the ICE in passenger cars during cruise is around ~20%. ICEV using CNG is not more efficient than ICEV on gasoline.


H2 is a very clean energy storage medium for Wind and Solar energy. It can be compressed at relatively low cost and transferred from fixed to mobile storage tanks very quickly.

FCs are clean, compact, high efficiency energy converters (H2 to Electricity and heat). Their size (volume), weight and cost are going down at a fast rate.

It is not surprising that many vehicle manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and many others will start mass production of FCEVs by 2015 or so. Many countries will promote the installation of H2 stations along their main highways and in selected places within major cities. Germany will have 50+ stations by 2015. Other countries will get on board the H2 train soon.

Bob Wallace

Natural gas is a fossil fuel. Using it puts more CO2 into the atmosphere and makes our climate problems even worse.

We need clean, green solutions.


If we stop using NG for vehicles and power plants, it could be used to produce essential chemicals and aircraft fuel?

Bob Wallace

We seem to have the option of leaving NG in the ground.

Not overnight. NG will help us get coal shut down first and coal is a larger problem than NG. But as we develop and install storage we can slow our use of NG.

It looks like we have a new storage company coming on line that will use batteries to cut our use of NG for peaking power. If they can pull it off then our NG use decreases.

We've already flown aircraft with biofuels. That's a non-fossil fuel option.

We've found non-fossil fuel feedstock for some of industrial needs. I don't know what percentage.


Pollution comes from burning fossil fuels like coal, crude, NG and burning wood and bio-fuels.

Eventually, the world may have the technologies to use those energy sources without burning them.

Bob Wallace

Pollution does come from all burning all the substances you listed.

But burning wood and biofuel does not put "new" carbon into the system.

Coal, petroleum and natural gas burning takes carbon that was safely sequestered beneath the Earth's surface and adds it to our already much too high levels.

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

When I said "Can you imagine..." I implied that it would be ungainly and very, very expensive for what you got.  So, you found one.  The fact that it occupies an entire semi-trailer isn't proof that its practicality is poor compared to the Supercharger?

the latest ones boil down to the fact that hydrogen supply for transport is in early days

We've been trucking liquid hydrogen around for decades.  The inter-refinery hydrogen pipeline system around the US Gulf coast has been there for some time.  That technology is mature.  There's no practical way to e.g. get the density of liquid hydrogen to exceed about 70 kg/m³.  The amount of truck traffic to move it would be far greater than for the equivalent amount of gasoline.  Wires require none.

'Completion time at this new station from contract signing, through construction, and to final commissioning with hydrogen, was just seven months.'

One has to wonder how long it takes to hook up a portable Supercharger.


BW says we need green solutions for..... ?

Using electrified vehicles (BEVs and FCEVs) could (and will) be a green solution as long as the electricity required is generated from green sources like Hydro, Waves, Geothermal, Wind and Solar.

Most everybody agree that BEVs are inherently more efficient, specially for short to mid distances due to limited battery capacity.

FCEVs may be a better solution for heavy vehicles such as intercity buses, long haul cargo trucks, locomotives, ships and for people who use their private vehicle for long trips.

We are currently using two main fuels; Gasoline and Diesel.

Why couldn't we continue to use two main fuels in the future: Electricity and H2?

Bob Wallace

H2 is one option for long haul trucks.

Electrified rate can do the job as well. Use BEV trucks for 'the last mile'.

Europe and Asia uses electrified rail and we have some on the east coast.

Someone has already built a 100 mile range 18 wheeler. For places not reasonably reached by rail trucks using battery swapping could make the rail connection.

I would think the higher efficiency of using electricity direct rather than converting its energy to H2 for storage would be a better financial decision.


(A) Both EV quick charge stations and H2 stations could be mass produced (in factories) and transported to final destinations in containers-trailers.

(B) Local preparation works would be limited to appropriate power, communication, water lines, concrete slab, parking and access road.

(C) Restaurants and washroom facilities would be contracted-auctioned out.

(A) and (B) could be done much faster than Liberty Ships fighter planes. USA could easily install 1,000+ stations a year.

Roger Pham

>>>>>>"I would think the higher efficiency of using electricity direct rather than converting its energy to H2 for storage would be a better financial decision."

Well, if RE like solar and wind energy is the primary source of energy, it is not possible to use RE electricity directly for at least about 1/2 of the time. If one look at the capacity factor of solar at 20% and wind at 30-40%, then, assuming the "best-case" scenario when solar and wind do not overlap but complementing each other, then ~50% of the time, a form of stored energy source will have to be used, such as fossil fuel or H2.
When solar and wind overlap. like on a sunny and windy day as well as calm nights or calm cloudy days, well, you do know that bulk energy storage will be needed. If battery or pumped-hydro or compress air is used for short-term energy storage, there will be monetary and efficiency costs associated with each of those, just as when H2 is used as energy storage medium. When using cost penalty as the criterio for selection, H2 would come out ahead as the winner.

Then, there is also the tremendous seasonal variation in energy consumption and RE production, that only H2 alone can handle the massive scale of this kind of energy storage. Even if nuclear energy is to be the only primary source of energy, seasonal-scale energy storage will still be needed, though not as much as when RE is the only primary source of energy. So, if one put H2 directly in a FCV in the winter wherein the waste heat can be used, or use H2 to make electricity at home via home FC-CHP to charge up one's BEV, the efficiency will be the same.

Remember also that H2 produced from RE can use the lower cost of raw RE fed directly to the electrolyzer without transmission loss or DC to AC conversion, while RE electricity supplied to the grid will require additional costs of transmission infrastructure and maintenance, grid-scale energy storage, and loss in the battery charger, including losses from DC to AC and then AC to DC conversion.

The conclusion is that RE to H2 in FCV is quite comparable to RE to grid to BEV in term of overall energy costs.

Roger Pham

Correction to above:
"When using cost penalty as the "criterio"...should be "criterium" Sorry, bad Latin.

When solar and wind energy output do overlap frequently, then, on average, only perhaps 30% of total RE electricity can be used directly, while the rest will have to be stored for later use. All energy storage media will have associated efficiency losses. Furthermore, considering the fact that the waste heat of electrolysis can be used, while direct grid usage of RE will undergo grid transmission loss and DC to AC then to DC conversion loss, then perhaps H2 for FCV and direct RE usage to the grid for charging of BEV will be comparable in efficiencies!

Richard Slay

When the companies' investors find out that they can make the quickest profits by simply converting cheap methane from fracking, a fossil fuel, into H2 and letting the resulting CO2 just float away into the air exactly like it would if you'd burned the methane to produce electricity, what do you think will happen?

They will lie, obfuscate, and lobby to preserve their green credentials to sell the cars to environmentally-concerned but ignorant rich folks and take the quick kill. New infrastructure is expensive, and American investors and their computer-run trading programs only care about the quickest, dirtiest profit. Whereas you can make your OWN electricity with solar panels at home and know where it came from.

Guarantee the renewables-based H2 production method is cheaper than the fracking-glutted methane market, or guarantee that the H2 stations outside of remote areas, where solar is definitely at an advantage, truly are getting their supply the same way.

Bob Wallace

Roger, capacity factor is not an indication of how many hours a source operates but a reporting of how much of their nameplate capacity they operate over a period of time.

In the case of generation which can't load follow the CF is somewhat indicative of operational hours. US nuclear, for example, has a CF in the low 80% range and coal in the low 50% range.

In many locations the wind blows a great deal of the time, just not often will enough force to max out production of the turbine. A turbine could, for example, run 24/365 at half nameplate output and have a CF of 50%.

Since onshore wind generally blows harder at night when demand is lower it becomes an excellent source for charging electrics.

The average EV will need to charge only an hour and a half on a 240 vac outlet. That means that electrics can be excellent dispatchable loads.

As we move into higher range EVs it will be possible to skip one or more nights charging when winds are low and then fully charge when supply is high.

Someone with a normal 30 mile a day driving style and a 200 mile range EV might allow the utility to charge their 'last 100 or 150' mile range as best fits the utility's needs in exchange for a price reduction.

If the wind was up on a given night and expected to be low for the next few days then the utility could fully charge the batteries and then skip up to five nights while still meeting the driver's 50 mile range minimum.

Bob Wallace

Then let's look at bit about the storage issue.

First, since most cars are likely to be charged late at night when the wind blows hardest probably well over 50% of all charging is going to be done directly from wind.

The part that has to be done from stored electricity. Storage losses are likely to be less than 20%.

So 60% with zero loss and 40% with a 20% loss (trying to be conservative about the amount of direct charging) means for 1 kWh of charging we would have to supply 1.1 kWh of electricity going in.

Even if we charged with all stored electricity it would take only 1.25 kWh input to obtain 1 kWh out.

Since the best case assumption seems to be that it takes at least 2x the amount of renewable energy to power a H2 FCEV a mile the electricity use for the fuel cell vehicle is going to be a lot higher.

Roger Pham

Ok, excess wind energy @ nite can be used for charging BEV's, while excess solar energy during the day can be used for charging PHEV's at work. Makes sense.

However, what about seasonal energy supply and demand mismatch? You're gonna need H2 to fill in the gap.

It takes the Tesla Model S 3 miles to consume 1 kWh of battery, while the Honda FCX Clarity takes 2 miles to consume 1 kWh's worth of H2, so clearly, FCV is not 1/2 as efficient, but more like 2/3.
However, the waste heat of the FC stack is worth something, 1/2 of the time in cold climates, while in moderate climates, 1/4 of the time, cabin heating is still needed. If taking that into consideration, perhaps FCV's and BEV's are roughly comparable in overall efficiency? Plus, BEV loses range in cold temp.

How about efficiency of electrolyzers (~78% when fed with steady DC current) vs. efficiency of RE from source to AC inverter to grid transmission loss to DC rectifier at the charger plus loss in the charger?
Furthermore, what if the waste heat of the electrolyzers (80-90 degrees C) is used for hot water heating at spas, hospitals, hotels, restaurants...etc? With a local H2 piping system, the electrolyzers can be placed anywhere within a city, feeding off from DC currents from nearby residential solar PV's and local wind turbines via dedicated DC transmission lines, while releasing the H2 into the local H2 piping that will go into storage facilities.

Would you consider, then, that the efficiency of FCV and BEV from source to wheels are at least comparable?


You have to keep in mind that your electrolyzer waste heat is only available when it's operating, AND if you want to use it you will have to locate the electrolyzer where the demand is, not where the power supply is.  That is likely to mean DC-AC-DC conversion losses and costs.



FCEVs and H2 stations may be more a question of necessity for future clean ground mix than cost. Long range and long haul heavy vehicles will need an on-board FC for clean operations.

At about 2/3 the efficiency of BEVs, future FCEVs will still be more efficient than most polluting ICEVs.

Roger Pham

Solar PV panels can be placed on top of the roofs and parking lots surrounding the electrolyzer, via dedicated DC lines. The voltage of the line will be dependent on the distance in order to reduce transmission loss.

Wind turbines within the region can transmit power via high voltage DC lines with almost zero lost given the few miles or tens of miles distance. The longer the distance, the higher the voltage required. The high voltage can be created via serial connection, which costs nothing, instead of using expensive semi-conductors to convert AC to high-voltage DC as in current practice in HVDC power transmission. In fact, the most expensive part of HVDC line transmission is conversion from AC to HVDC. The power line costs very little for the short distance that is involved within the region.

Bob Wallace

"However, what about seasonal energy supply and demand mismatch? You're gonna need H2 to fill in the gap."

Will there be a seasonal supply/demand mismatch? Or will we do with renewables what we do currently with traditional generating technologies and over build?

Our current grids are built (IIRC) to supply about 125% of maximum peak demand. We need more than peak in order to deal with plants that may not be functioning during periods of highest demand.

If you look at the CF (capacity factor - actual annual output/potential annual output) for nuclear it's low 80%, coal is low 50%, and natural gas is about 25%. Our existing plants spend a lot of time not producing electricity.

In fact, we have more NG capacity (55%) than coal and nuclear combined (45%). That means that our traditional plants spend well over 50% of the time idle.

Then we have a large span between normal peak and off-peak demand. If we charge mostly during off-peak it's hard to see where there will be a supply shortage.

Remember, electric vehicles can be opportunistic. They can sit idle for long periods and then grab the power they need during supply peaks.

The renewable grid will need some storage, but probably less than most people assume. How we will store is yet to be decided. We might use H2 but battery technology is looking very promising. Compressed air storage is looking viable. And we have enormous potential for pump-hydro should we decide that's the best answer.

Solar PV panels can be placed on top of the roofs and parking lots surrounding the electrolyzer

Which assumes that the roofs and parking lots are well-sited for PV generation.  Unless your electrolyzers can produce temperatures sufficient to drive absorption chillers, you're going to find very little use for that heat across the Southwest in the summer.

Wind turbines within the region can transmit power via high voltage DC lines with almost zero lost given the few miles or tens of miles distance.

HVDC is not economic for short ranges due to the cost and losses of the stations at the ends.

Heat is far less economic to store or ship than electricity.  If you expect to use waste heat, it needs to be produced where and when it is needed.  A lot of the optimistic scenarios fail to recognize this, so any system based on them will fall short of projections or fail outright.

If you look at the CF (capacity factor - actual annual output/potential annual output) for nuclear it's low 80%

In the USA, the capacity factor for nuclear is around 90% (esp. taking account of units in regulatory limbo, like San Onofre).  Countries with lower figures are typically load-following.  During the January cold snap, US nuclear plants averaged upwards of 95% capacity factor.  More at the EIA.

Bob Wallace

No, the CF for nuclear in 2011 was 84.3% and in 2012 it was 81.4%. 2013 numbers have not yet been released.

Those are from EIA data.


Bob, you are full of it.  Here are the 2011 and 2012 numbers straight from the EIA, with the first 11 months of 2013.  The lowest was 2012, which included the NRC-hobbled San Onofre plant (which could have run at 70% but was not allowed to by NRC fiat).  The lowest figure is 86.1%.  In 2007, capacity factor hit 91.8%.

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