Toyota has made the announcement that it will be increasing resources towards its investment in the hydrogen fuel cell sectors to build mass-market vehicles at lower design cost. It will be pushing the tech into trucks and buses so that they can build economies of scale. To this effect, it is going to be moving forward with its ‘Project Portal‘ which is for the FCV class 8 semi-truck.
The objective here is the next generation of the Mirai Hydrogen FCV is going to be available as from the next two years which was formerly thought to be impossible by other brands. Yoshikazu Tanaka, the chief engineer of the Mirai claimed the brand was going to shift from limited to mass production capacity, and in so doing come up with replacements for the expensive materials used in producing FCV components such as Platinum. The question still remains how to get the market excited about buying FCV cars.
Reducing the Production Cost for FCV Models
Toyota believes that part of the issue when it comes to the adoption of the FCV is they are still too expensive to produce en-mass. By making these vehicles cheaper, Toyota is hoping they will soon have the same success its hybrids have had on the market like the Prius. Ikuo Ota, the manager for new business planning for the fuel cell projects at the company stated Toyota was going to be using as many parts from the current passenger vehicles for the fuel cell trucks, citing there would otherwise be no need for mass production of the FCVs. Not every brand shares Toyota’s enthusiasm when it comes to FCV as a fuel means.
According to Reuters, some automakers like Tesla and Nissan see battery-powered cars as the better option to petrol and FCV alternatives. Only Honda and Hyundai have taken FCV seriously and are already producing pilot models. However, sources familiar to Toyota’s initiative have hinted that Toyota believes the demand is going to increase as more countries such as China adopt fuel cell technology. Toyota also sees FCV alternatives as a hedge against a scarcity of key EV battery materials such as Cobalt.
Improving the Mirai
On the other hand, Toyota is also looking to improve the performance of its Mirai models. Toyota would want to expand the range of the upcoming Mirai to a level of 750 kilometers from the current 500. It would aspire to hit the 1000 km range mark by the year 2025. This technology for Toyota has been a long time coming.
After all, Toyota comes with some experience when it comes to marketing eco-friendly technology to large markets. The Prius came in the 90s for example, when petroleum was still quite strong and before other brands had to think about the environmental impact of their models.
It was the first brand to release the FCV with the first iteration of the Mirai. There was a high price tag associated with the vehicle of course and there was no infrastructure as concerns fuel stations, which has contributed to stunted adoption. As at the present, there are fewer than 6000 Mirai models which have been sold worldwide.