Toyota said to aim for low of $30K for fuel cell vehicle

Toyota and Honda are eying 2015 launches of consumer fuel cell vehicles, a source tells Nikkei, adding that prices could go as low as $30,000 by the next decade.

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Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
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Toyota fuel cell vehicle Sarah Tew/CNET

Toyota and Honda are both planning to bring fuel cell vehicles to market in 2015 with aim of making the cars available for less than $50,000 further in the future, according to a Japan report.

Toyota is hoping to reduce pricing to between 3 million yen (about $30,000) and 5 million yen (about $50,000) by the 2020s, according to a Nikkei report on Wednesday.

To date, fuel cell vehicle price targets have been in the stratosphere, with auto makers saying only that prices could be below $100,000 (see Honda discussion below).

Fuel cells use hydrogen to generate electricity on board the car. Pure hydrogen is pumped into the tank and combined with air to create water, a reaction that also produces electricity. The fuel cell channels the electricity to a drive motor, powering the car.

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Honda is developing a five-passenger sedan that it may sell as early as November 2015, Nikkei said.

"With a hydrogen tank made from carbon fiber, the car will be able to travel about 500km on a single charge -- twice the range of an electric vehicle," the newspaper said.

Honda -- which has been doing joint development work with General Motors -- aims to make 5,000 vehicle over five years, selling them in Japan, the U.S. and Europe. Honda is saying the price will be "under 10 million yen" initially.

Toyota, for its part, has downsized the power-generating system, placing it under the seats in order to create more cabin space, Nikkei said. And The number of hydrogen tanks has been cut in half to two.

Correction: The $30,000 - $50,000 price range is a target set for sometime in the 2020s.