The company’s North American top executive said the US state’s plan to have at least 50 hydrogen fuel stations by 2016 is a good prospect for next year’s release of the Toyota fuel cell vehicle.
California’s strategy to also invest in hydrogen refill stations sees the state subsidizing with $47 million at least 28 new stations for fuel cell cars, as the 10 operational and 16 in development are seen as insufficient.
“Just based on the product, based on the infrastructure we see that will be in place in California, we’re much more bullish on fuel cell,” Lentz said. “I’m more bullish on fuel cell than I was on EV. I think the cost of fuel cells is going to be substantially less than in an EV.” Consumers “are used to driving 300 to 350 miles. They are used to pulling into a station and refueling their vehicle in five or six minutes,” he adds. “That has retarded the growth of buying pure battery vehicles, because there is the anxiety about range.”
The Japanese automaker is not just holding back and waiting for others to do the job, as the company itself is providing at least $7.2 million to a California startup that plans to operate hydrogen stations. Lentz adds that fuel-cell cars should be the easier zero emission option, as the performance, range and refill time is very close to the one a driver is used to seeing from a traditional gasoline engined car.