The largest automaker in the world, also the biggest Japanese company, is all in when it comes to electric vehicles, though its approach is fundamentally different from what others have established.
While numerous automakers are investing heavily into battery electric vehicles – such as Tesla and many others – Toyota has gone down a more treacherous road – fuel cell electric vehicles powered by hydrogen. And they firmly believe their version of the electric vehicle technology will roam the planet in the near future instead of battery electrics such as the ones manufactured by Tesla. Toyota this week on Monday finally started taking “requests” on its hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle Mirai, which is programmed for an initial short-run manufacturing output of 3,000 units by 2018. In the US, the vehicle is programmed for launch in California in October and comes with an EPA estimated range of 312 miles. “We don’t see any battery technology that would allow us to…give customers a comparable driving experience at a reasonable price. With batteries there is a fundamental science problem that we don’t know how to solve. It’s going to require a new material that doesn’t yet exist,” explains Craig Scott, national alternative fuel vehicle manager at Toyota.
He pointed out they see no solution today – which means for the next decade there is a blank, since laboratory work today needs around seven to ten years to reach a production vehicle. Meanwhile, he adds, with fuel cells already all the needed materials for a major cost reduction and performance upgrade have been identified – and hydrogen powered cars are already just as easy to use and refill as gasoline counterparts.