Will Toyota’s Fuel Cell Sedan Be Able to Challenge Tesla’s Model S?

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Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept

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Although the Prius family of vehicles has brought much success and popularity to Toyota, leading many people to believe that the company will try and become a dominant force in the all-electric vehicle segment, as well, the Japanese car maker has decided to steer away from EVs and direct most of its resources towards the development of fuel cell vehicles, which they think have the potential to be the best alternative to conventional cars. Toyota has been working on a hydrogen-powered vehicle for a couple of years now, and recently announced that its first fuel cell car is ready for production and will be commercially available next year.

The “Fuel Cell Sedan”, as it is currently known, will go on sale in Japan in April 2015, and will cost about $70,000 before taxes. This is a significantly lower price than the one originally estimated by Toyota, as the company has said that the car could cost as much as $100,000 in the U.S. market. European and North American customers will be able to purchase it in the summer of 2015. As far as the U.S. is concerned, the fuel cell sedan will only be available in California in the first couple of months after its launch, due to the fact that this is the state that has the most extensive hydrogen fueling infrastructure, with about a dozen fueling stations already in place, and plans for another 100 stations within the next ten years.

While this hydrogen-powered sedan employs completely different technology than the Model S, it is being considered as a potential rival to Tesla Motors‘ highly-successful all-electric sedan, as it addresses the main issues all EVs – including the Model S – face: range anxiety and long recharge times. Namely, Toyota’s FCV will be able to travel about 430 miles on one charge, and it will only take 3-5 minutes to refuel. These are some pretty significant competitive advantages over Tesla’s car, as it only delivers a range of around 260 miles, with a recharge time of approximately 9 hours.

Tesla Model S and Supercharger
Tesla Model S and Supercharger station

On the other hand, the Model S is backed by a more extensive refueling network, with over 20,000 EV charging stations across the country, compared to only a handful of hydrogen fueling stations. The absence of a proper support infrastructure at the moment could prove to be a huge hurdle for a deeper market penetration of hydrogen-powered cars, and there are no guarantees that the situation will change anytime soon – it requires heavy investment and a joint effort from the auto industry, authorities, and energy companies.

It will be very difficult to  get car makers and hydrogen suppliers to invest in stations – that cost between $1 million and $2 million to build – before they can be sure that there are enough fuel cell cars on the road to make that kind of investment economically viable.

Nevertheless, Toyota remains dedicated to the development of hydrogen-powered cars, as it firmly believes that they are far more convenient and better for the environment than electric vehicles, and if it manages to bring the purchase price further down, this fuel cell sedan may well get the mass-market appeal and become a decent rival to the Model S.

  • Jordan Perch

    Jordan Perch is an automotive blogger writing for DMV.com, a website that aims to help drivers handle all DMV­ related tasks without the stress and hassle that they usually involve. A devoted car enthusiast, he likes to write about the latest in the auto industry, focusing on vehicle safety technologies, green vehicles and driverless cars. Car reviews, car prices and auto shows are also among the things being discussed in his blog posts. Drivers looking to save on auto insurance, or car buyers trying to determine what car fits their needs the most, might find his blog posts pretty helpful.

5 thoughts on “Will Toyota’s Fuel Cell Sedan Be Able to Challenge Tesla’s Model S?”

  1. Hydrogen fueling stations don’t have to cost $1 or 2 million. And even if they did the long term benefits of being energy self sufficient would be worth it. Trillions have been stolen from the American people to bomb and occupy lands 8 thousand miles away, and we’re still dependent on a fuel that is opposite of green and imported. Later tonight Obomba will call for more war that will cost billions.

    Here’s a couple of examples the author might be interested in. After all, Japan thinks this is the future and they are not stupid.

    a video presentation of a Solar Hydrogen Station in California that is working now

    ITM Solar/Wind Power Stations can be installed just about anywhere there is sun or wind and water.

    • There is a much cheaper and cleaner way to becoming energy self sufficient and that is electric battery vehicles.

      Japan has plenty of stupid people.

      1) They bombed Pearl Harbor.

      2) Sony executives sticking with CRT and Walkmans when it was clear the world was heading to LED flat panels TVs and MP3.

      3) Isuzu and Mitsubishi Automobiles.

      4) Total fertility rate of 1.41 and refusal to accept immigrants for racist reasons.

  2. Ok, lets get some misconceptions out of the way.

    “Namely, Toyota’s FCV will be able to travel about 430 miles on one charge, and it will only take 3-5 minutes to refuel. These are some pretty significant competitive advantages over Tesla’s car, as it only delivers a range of around 260 miles, with a recharge time of approximately 9 hours.”

    The Toyota FCV can not travel 430 miles, in same way a Nissan Leaf can’t travel 141 miles. These are JC08 numbers and should not be compared to EPA numbers.

    Second of all, the 9 hour charge is for reg 240v outlet. Tesla superchargers charge to full in less than an hour and even at-home charging option of Tesla Twin charger can do it in 4.5 hours.

    Fact of the mater is Hydrogen and fuel cells are dead on arrival. According to Toyota, an affordable FCV will only come in 2025+.

  3. WAY misleading! Toyota has partnered with US Natural Gas companies so they can keep us buying fuel from them. The Model S fills at night in my garage. I don’t have to go looking for a fueling station, drive there, and blow part of my range getting there and back home.
    On top of that, hydrogen MUST BE MADE. The only economical method we have in the near future is steam reforming of Natural Gas, which dumps out CO2 by the ton. It does not matter that you can fuel in minutes. It DOES matter that an electric car with real range can fuel itself from ubiquitous outlets while I eat and sleep. And the CO2 generated is far less than driving on hydrogen.
    Toyota will be dead in the water because their business model includes refueling at some distant fueling station that creates greenhouse gasses. If we follow their lead, we will all be dead in the water. We MUST get off fossil fuels as soon as possible, and Tesla has a beautiful, efficient, low pollution way to do it NOW.
    Yes, Toyota can be dumb. Just because they made it on one car (Prius) doesn’t make them genius. I have owned Prius since 1998, and since Tesla, I will NEVER own another gas car. Do your homework. Don’t be fueled by fool cells.

  4. 9 hrs for recharge… is totally BS… you get 120 miles at teslas supercharges in 20Minutes…and that is for free…i can wait 15 min and get a cup of coffe and still save a lot of $$


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