For over 50 years, many car manufacturers have embarked on the adventure of producing a vehicle operating with a fuel cell without really succeeding in this niche market so far. The most recent commercial trials come from several manufacturers with the following models: Audi Q5-FCEV (2009), Fiat Panda-HyTRAN (2009), Mazda 5 Hydrogen RE Hybrid (2009), Mercedes-Benz B-Class-F-Cell (2009), Nissan X-Trail-FCV (2009), Volkswagen Caddy-Maxi HyMotion (2009), BMW 1 series-fuel cell hybrid (2010) and Mercedes-Benz-F800-(2010).In 2007, Honda was one of the first companies to initiate commercial approaches to market a vehicle operating with a fuel cell. The car was the Honda FCX Clarity shown above. This concept car for which around 100 copies were produced, has failed to achieve the desired level of commercialization.
Toyota announced January 6th, 2014 at the “Consumer Electronics Show” (CES) in Las Vegas, the marketing of a car using a fuel cell: The Toyota FCV 2015. This car will be offered to consumers of Japan and California. Those consumers will have the chance to drive a vehicle using the energy source that could power vehicles of the future when gasoline price will hit rocketsky.
But. what’s a fuel cell? According to Wikipedia, a fuel cell is “a device that converts the chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing agent.”
This second video gives us more details on the fuel cells technology in place in this car:
This technology produces energy, heat and water vapor as emission gas: it is what it takes to our planet to counteract significantly greenhouse emission gas produced by vehicles running on gasoline. The fuel cell produces electricity to power an electric motor as in an electric car. This vehicle will have an estimated autonomy of 480 km (298 miles) and 10 seconds acceleration time to do 0-100 km / h (0-60mph).
Driving a car powered by a fuel cell vehicle is like driving an electric vehicle with a range three times greater than what is currently possible with a Nissan Leaf. However, the acquisition price of a Toyota FCV 2015 is currently way too high: the basic version will be available for 7,000,000 yen in Japan or the equivalent of $ 74,000 in canada! Very very expensive for a vehicle that looks like a $ 30,000 midsize sedan car.
Toyota is part of a consortium with four other vehicle manufacturers including Hyundai, BMW, Honda and Mercedes, who have committed to provide in Europe 110 vehicles using fuel cells vehicles. Hyundai alone will provide 75 multi-segment Tucson / ix35 from the 110 vehicles to deliver.
Hyundai has also started marketing the multi-segment Tucson / ix35 2015 in California. This vehicle is available for purchase for the sum of $ 50,000 or on a rental plan for $ 500 per month with a deposit of $ 3000. Autonomy is similar, 434 km (270 miles) and acceleration from 0–100km / h (0-60mph) in 12.5 seconds.
Commercialization of vehicles powered by a fuel cell will generate several problems who need to be addressed as a priority: hydrogen production and hydrogen fuel stations:
- Hydrogen is abundant on the planet in the form of water (H2O). But to separate hydrogen from oxygen, it takes energy. If this energy comes from a polluting source such as coal, the pollution problem remains the same. Hydrogen is an excellent energy source. However, this gas is highly explosive. Security surrounding the use and supply of this energy source should be flawless. The spectacular crash of the German airship Hindenburg that caused the death of 36 passengers on May 6th, 1937 following an hydrogen leak from its 16 tanks must remain in memory of manufacturers: the public has to stay confident with the technology.
- Another small problem: refueling of hydrogen requires 10 minutes for the Hyundai Tucson. This is certainly shorter than doing a fast charging of an electric vehicle (about 30 minutes) but still 5 to 10 times longer than refueling a gasoline vehicle. Can you imagine on a cold and windy winter day spending 10 minutes near your car to refuel it? And queuing behind one or two cars knowing that they will each take 10 minutes to fill up their hydrogen tanks?
It is nevertheless a great step forward that automakers will try to make us do by introducing these new green technologies. This is how electric vehicles have started their marketing even if the public had at that time, a lot of questions, fears and hope, with the marketing of the first Toyota Prius in Japan in 1997.Actual fuel cells vehicle have a distinct advantage compare to electric vehicles when they started to be commercialized : A fuel cell vehicle is an ELECTRIC VEHICLES where the batteries have been replaced by fuel cells. Manufacturers today know how to do an electric vehicle. They have yet to find how to make fuel cells at a competitive cost!
- La Toyota à hydrogène: laide, chère mais inspirante, source.
- Hyundai to sell fuel cell cars to Europe, source.
- 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell Review and Quick Spin, source.