Toyota and Honda bet on hydrogen

Unveiled just hours apart these two new vehicles hint to the future strategy of the two Japanese giants. Toyota in particular is explicitly talking about Fuel Cell Vehicles as the future overlooking, at the moment, fully electric powered cars.

But despite the big news is coming from under the hood it is worth noting that the success of both models could be at risk not because of their innovative technology, but because some quite ugly design choices.

Mirai means “future” in Japanese. That’s the name of Toyota’s new fuel cell vehicle that can travel up to 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, refuel in less than five minutes and emits only water vapor. Of course, the car of the future won’t become a reality without the hydrogen stations to support it. That’s why Toyota North America chief executive officer (CEO) Jim Lentz announced a new commitment to drive the development of a hydrogen refueling infrastructure in five northeastern U.S. states. To support Mirai’s introduction to the region in 2016, Toyota is collaborating with Air Liquide to develop and supply a phased network of 12 state-of-the-art hydrogen stations targeted for New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Toyota FCV rear

The Honda FCV Concept is anticipated to launch in Japan by March of 2016, followed by U.S. and Europe. In an effort to support the wider introduction of fuel-cell vehicles, Honda will make an announcement at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show about its commitment to help expand and accelerate California’s public hydrogen refueling station network. The car applies a fuel-cell powertrain that fits completely within the front engine compartment of the vehicle, allowing for efficiencies in cabin space as well as flexibility in the potential application of fuel-cell technology to multiple vehicle models in the future. Significant technological advancements to the fuel-cell stack have yielded more than 100kW of power output. The power density is now 3.1kW/L, an increase of 60 percent, with the stack size reduced 33-percent compared to the Honda FCX Clarity. The next-generation Honda FCV is targeted to deliver a driving range of more than 300 miles with a quick refueling time of about three to five minutes at a pressure of 70 MPa.

Honda FCV