Toyota heats the battle for the green car’s future image

A senior Toyota Motor Corp executive singled out Elon Musk and other rival executives on Tuesday and made a bold prediction for their hydrogen car, in an escalation of the auto industry’s war of words over future green technologies.

Bob Carter, Toyota’s senior vice president for automotive operations, said in a speech that he believed a hydrogen fuel cell car it plans to launch next year could eventually be as successful as its pioneering Prius gasoline-electric hybrid.

Carter said “naysayers” who have spoken out against the technology would be proven wrong and referred to Elon Musk, founder of electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc, Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan Motor Co, and former Volkswagen executive Jonathan Browning by name.

“Personally I don’t really care what Elon and Carlos and Jonathan have to say about fuel cells. It’s very reminiscent of 1998, 1999 when we first introduced the Prius,” Carter said at a conference held in conjunction with the Detroit auto show.

The comments underscore just how big the stakes are in the race to take the lead in the next generation green car. While Toyota is investing heavily in fuel cells, others such as Nissan, Volkswagen and Tesla are betting on electric vehicles as the next big thing while publicly questioning whether hydrogen could ever develop into a practical automotive fuel.

Toyota’s Carter also addressed the infrastructure issue, arguing that the number of hydrogen fuelling stations would grow in time, helped by private-public partnerships such as the one established in the state of California.

Via Reuters