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Toyota says cost of fuel cells will plunge by 2015

At the International Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Expo in Tokyo, Toyota outlined its goals for reducing the cost of hydrogen fuel cells.

TOKYO--Toyota Motor aims to slash the cost of hydrogen fuel cell technology before it starts selling its fuel cell sedan in 2015, a top executive said.

The company plans to tackle costs several ways, said Shinzo Kobuki, senior managing director in charge of Toyota's battery technology. Toyota will:

  • Use less platinum in the fuel stack.
  • Use fewer components and simplify the design.
  • Lower the cost of the carbon fiber used to reinforce hydrogen tanks.

The goal is to bring the cost of the fuel stack and high-pressure hydrogen tank to one-twentieth of 2008 levels, Kobuki said last week at the International Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Expo in Tokyo.

Toyota has said the high cost of the fuel cell system today, including the fuel cell stack and hydrogen tank, drives the price of what would otherwise be a car people could afford into the $100,000 range.

Toyota already has reined in the cost of manufacturing the tank, for example, by changing the way it spools carbon fiber around it. Engineers sped up the process by moving the tank and the fiber spinners simultaneously rather than keeping the tank stationary, Kobuki said.

Toyota also is experimenting with replacing some of the platinum used in the fuel cell stack with less expensive manganese, he added.

In November, Toyota announced plans to launch sales of a fuel cell sedan around 2015.

Kobuki said the sedan's production volume hasn't been determined.

(Source: Automotive News)