Toyota Commits to a Hydrogen Car for 2015

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With the exception of a couple of high-profile prototype models from over the years, hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles have remained largely a pipe dream for mass-scale production for a couple of glaring reasons. One is that there is virtually no supporting infrastructure for hydrogen car refueling, coupled with limited interest in the vehicles until that first issue gets sorted out. Then, of course, there is the most obvious price problem:┬áthe cars aren’t cheap.

Nonetheless, Toyota (NYSE:TM) spent a good deal of the latter part of 2013 defending its support of the hydrogen fuel-cell platform and has been parading its prototype — the FCV — around at trade shows and news conferences. Why the sudden rush of publicity? Because Toyota is intending to put the first mass-produced hydrogen-powered vehicle in showrooms in 2015. That’s next year, folks.

Toyota’s latest venue for its FCV concept is the consumer electronics trade show, or CES, in Las Vegas. On paper, Toyota’s planned vehicle — which would presumably start production next year, as well — looks pretty good. A 300-mile range would put it at the top of the plug-in only vehicles available now, but unlike plug-in EVs, the hydrogen car can refuel in three to five minutes. That sounds well and good, but real-world feasibility is still an issue, since there’s no supporting hydrogen fuel network.

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