Toyota makes Fuel Cell Vehicle star of CES 2014

Taking center stage for Toyota at CES 2014 will be its Fuel Cell Vehicle concept car, which will demonstrate Toyota's research into clean automotive energy.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle concept
Toyota's odd-looking fuel cell vehicle will star at CES 2014. Toyota

While other automakers highlight autonomous car technologies at CES 2014, Toyota will be taking a different tack. The company will use the venue to show off its latest Fuel Cell Vehicle concept car.

Fuel cell vehicles combine pure hydrogen with air to create water, a reaction that also produces electricity. The fuel cell channels the electricity to a drive motor, powering the car.

Many automakers had active fuel cell research programs a decade ago, but their efforts went quiet as battery electric vehicles became the rage.

A fuel cell vehicle is essentially an electric car, with the advantage that hydrogen tanks take much less time to fill than a battery does to recharge. Toyota notes that the Fuel Cell Vehicle concept it will show at CES 2014 can go 310 miles, and takes just 3 minutes to refill with hydrogen.

Toyota released few performance figures about its Fuel Cell Vehicle concept's performance, but writes that continuing development of its fuel cell vehicle stack has led to an output of 10 kilowatt-hours from two 10,000-psi hydrogen tanks.

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That Toyota would use the Fuel Cell Vehicle concept as the star of its CES 2014 presence shows a commitment to the technology, underlined by the company's statement that it will put a fuel cell production vehicle on the road near 2015. The development in this area also suggests Toyota is not convinced battery technology will advance to quicker recharge times or greatly enhanced capacity anytime soon.

The Fuel Cell Vehicle concept is a funny-looking thing, even stranger than the Prius. However, its design is supposed to reflect the idea of air, at the front of the car, being turned into water. Like other fuel cell vehicles, this concept emits water vapor as its waste product.

Toyota showed off this Fuel Cell Vehicle concept at last year's Tokyo Motor Show, and will feature it during a press conference on Monday, January 6, at 1 p.m. PT. Check CNET's CES coverage at that time for a live blog.