Toyota will begin selling a hydrogen-powered vehicle next by April for about $69,000, a price that puts it in direct competition with another zero emissions sedan: the Tesla Motors all-electric Model S.
The company's first commercial hydrogen fuel cell car is modeled after a concept it introduced at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. The fuel cell vehicle, which uses Toyota's hybrid technology, generates electricity through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to power the motor.
Toyota has been working on a fuel cell vehicle since 1996. In 2002, the automaker began a limited sale of the Toyota FCHV in Japan and U.S. Six years later, Toyota introduced an advanced version of its previous SUV-style fuel cell vehicle--again sold in a limited amount to selected users.
Now Toyota is ready to accelerate its hydrogen plans with a fuel cell sedan that has a driving range of about 700 kilometers and a re-charging time of about three minutes. If the car is successful it could compete with all-electric vehicles, which take much longer to charge.
The car will be introduced by April 2015 in Japan where the government has pledged about $70 miilion in subsidies to build 100 hydrogen stations. Europe and the U.S. are expected to see the fuel cell car in stores in summer 2015.
Toyota's marketing approach, at least with its initial information, promotes the car's benefits over electric vehicles, not so much gasoline powered ones. The car does have a much faster charging time and driving range than Tesla's Model S and other all-electric cars, which might appeal to consumers. Still huge obstacles remain, notably the lack of a hydrogen fueling network.