Toyota brought out the big intellectual guns to impress us with its plans for the future. Physicist Michio Kaku expounded at length about how we're "entering the age of hydrogen," and emphasized the value of collaboration, as epitomized by Henry Ford and Thomas Edison at the birth of the automotive era.
Stressing recent oil disasters, Kaku emphasized that hydrogen is volatile but dissipates quickly, and that we've been working with it long enough that we've smoothed out the kinks.
"We are present at the creation of a hydrogen society."
According to Bob Carter of Toyota, the first model is named Mirai, Japanese for "future". In the US, the future means October 2015.
Like Kaku, Carter made a big point about the bet between Ford and Edison about whether gas or electric would power the automotive age.
The front grill of the Mirai.
A rendering of the inside of the car's front.
Carter talks about the difficulty of predicting the future. Because there's a Yogi quote for everything.
Those yellow cylinders are the hydrogen and oxygen tanks. When charged, they combine to form water vapor, and the reaction releases energy. This "on-demand" energy drives the front wheels.
The voltage boost converter system allows the car to start in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius.
Simulating a blackout, Carter "plugged" the car into the faux house to emphasize that the hydrogen fuel cell can power everything, not just cars. He claimed the fuel cell in the car could power a typical house for a week in an emergency.
Toyota has invested in FirstElement Fuel to provide hydrogen-fueling stations. Carter said that a car could be refueled in 3-5 minutes.
In the northeast, Toyota is partnering with Air Liquide.
Carter claims that hydrogen fuel cell-based cars will be in production by the 10s of thousands by 2020.
Knowing that it needs the participation of a lot of other hydrogen fuel-cell related manufacturers, Toyota is allowing royalty-free use of all of its relevant and tech-critical patents. For a while.
Read more about Toyota kickstarting fuel-cell future with patent release.
Here are some of the various categories Toyota holds patents in.