Toyota outlines hydrogen fuel cell ambitionsAt CES in Las Vegas, Toyota's Bob Carter shows a company mockup of its foray into hydrogen-based cars and discusses the challenges, getting the price down, and creating a viable refeuling infrastructure.
What I believe I'm gonna tell you about today is really gonna change our world in sooner rather than later. For years the use of hydrogen gas to power automobiles has been seen by many smart people as a foolish quest. The point of view is reminiscent of the opinions 20 years ago of how the Prius Hybrid was called by mane as a science project that would never be economically feasible. The point is, is change takes persistence. Instead of turning out clever phrases, we at Toyota have been turning wheels with electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen in an inboard fuel cell system. Hydrogen as we know works beautifully with oxygen to create water and electricity, and absolutely nothing more. Hydrogen is plentiful and there are many ways to produce it, and many of those are sustainable. And as we all know, a fuel cell is more efficient to operate than a gasoline engine, which means it requires less fuel to travel the same distance, and again produces zero emissions. In 2015 we will bring this technology to market. Now that's not to say our work is done and there are challenges ahead, two in particular. The first is building a vehicle at an affordable price, and the second is what are we doing to help build that critical hydrogen refilling infrastructure. This project has been fully in-house, from the start we needed to invent the tools which is to develop, build and safety tests a truly brand new exotic power train. By far the biggest advances coming to market with a reasonably priced car have been related to the materials, the design and the manufacturing. The beauty is we have seen considerable improvement in all three of those areas, which is why we're so bullish on fuel cells. Toyota has been in the dry battery business for a long time, we love batteries, we're the world leader in hybrid electronics. The dedication to battery technology continues but compared to battery electrics, the rate of cost reduction that we have seen in fuel cell electric technology has been staggering. That's why our hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe and in much greater numbers than anyone expected. The state has recently approved more than $200 million in fueling for as many as 100 new stations; 20 by 2015 and 40 by 2016. Now, those numbers may sound small but one thing we believe is that the issue for the infrastructure isn't about how many there are but rather location, location and location. Now, Toyota and the University of California, the Advanced Energy Program, collaborated on a special model that maps out specific distribution of stations. The locations considered a variety of data including hybrid and electric ownership patterns, traffic patterns, population density and so on. The model was based on the assumption that owners would wanna reach a refueling station within six minutes of their home or work. What this model produced was an initial clustered map that identified only 68 station sites in the San Francisco Bay area, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Orange and San Diego counties. Now, if implemented this system could handle a fuel cell population conservatively estimated at about 10,000 vehicles. And the study went further. By using this model, if every vehicle in the state of California run on hydrogen we could meet refueling logistics with only 15% of the nearly 10,000 gas stations that are currently operating in the state. We don't need a station on every corner, it's not about how many, it's about their location.