North American Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz said he’s confident that Camry sized hydrogen cars, which should begin sales next year, would be well received and even wants a bigger supply to come from Japan.
Lentz is also very confident in the company’s advances with the fuel cell system, as the world’s biggest automaker – also the biggest carmaker in terms of hybrid-electric auto sales – preps for the wide release of the yet unnamed sedan in Japan, Europe and California in 2015.
“After we’ve seen the product, understand its range, its driving dynamics, its refueling, we’re a lot more bullish than Japan — probably about fivefold more bullish,” Lentz said in an interview. “It’s just a question of how many can be produced now.”
Toyota, which although is primarily known for the hybrids it makes, has been developing hydrogen vehicles since the beginning of the 1990s, with its mass-market sedan now reaching a 300 miles (483 kilometers) range. Lentz didn’t elaborate on the sales goal set internally and also didn’t provide specifics on the price of the new model – but said over the last decade the cost of producing a fuel cell car dropped severely (around 95%) from the $1 million a piece price tag.
Toyota is not the only one readying a fuel cell vehicle for the US next year, as Hyundai is also aiming to provide California, which has the country’s toughest emissions rules with a fuel cell alternative.